Plangkat Milaham was a public health consultant in Nigeria before moving to the U of A to pursue a master’s degree in public health.
The M.P.H. will get him closer to his goal of leading infectious disease eradication initiatives on a global scale. “My dream job is to work at an international health organization as a public health expert,” he said.
Milaham is taking advantage of every opportunity at the U of A to build his research skills and gain a deeper technical knowledge of public health practice. He earned the Outstanding Master of Public Health student award at the College of Education and Health Professions awards ceremony this year.
Although it’s not required for graduation, Milaham is working on an independent research project related to COVID-19 and college-aged students. He won a grant from the U of A Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation to explore the perceptions, behaviors and attitudes of campus populations in the context of COVID.
“Findings from my study will guide decision-making about the most effective communication channels that can be leveraged to reach college students with COVID-related public health messages and the degree of influence these channels have,” he said.
He believes the project will also offer insight into how to strengthen education strategies for better health within the U of A community.
On another independent project, he conducted a systematic review of literature to investigate the barriers and facilitators of antiretroviral therapy and pre-exposure prophylaxis among Black/African Americans between 2011 and 2021 across the United States. The study highlights key factors determining the uptake of HIV/AIDS biomedical interventions at individual, interpersonal and structural levels, which he will be discussing in an oral presentation session at this year’s American Public Health Association’s conference in Boston.
Milaham is working on both research projects with his mentor, Alex Russell, an assistant professor in the College of Education and Health Professions’ public health program and the associate director of technology in the college’s new Center for Public Health and Technology. Milaham is a student affiliate at the center, coordinating with faculty, students and staff to explore novel public health research directions and conduct research.
He also teaches a Terminology for the Health Professions course to undergraduate public health students.
Milaham earned a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Jos in Nigeria. As a public health consultant in the African country, he provided technical assistance to state and national primary health care agencies, implemented and evaluated public health interventions, and contributed to primary health care research. “I worked on HIV and TB control interventions as well as routine immunization and PHC-strengthening programs,” he said.
In the future, Milaham wants to help make life better for those who struggle in areas close to where he was raised in Plateau State, Nigeria.
“I’d love to play a key role in strengthening health systems within the sub-Saharan African region through the coordination of evidence-based and contextually tailored interventions to optimize health outcomes, especially amongst disadvantaged populations,” he said.
This story is the latest in a series featuring students, faculty and staff in the College of Education and Health Professions who exemplify the college’s core WE CARE priorities. The college is helping solve complex challenges in education and health across Arkansas and beyond with this new initiative. Visit COEHP’s online magazine, the Colleague, for more news from the six units that make up the college.
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