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Originally from Nigeria and currently working as a veterinary doctor in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada, Justina Ndubuka is a University of Liverpool online MPH student, due to graduate in December 2013. She has been invited to present her MPH research findings – on breastfeeding among HIV-positive women in Botswana – to the prestigious American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting in Boston, USA, in November 2013.

“I love challenges,” said Justina, who gave birth to her two children while studying her MPH with a specialisation in International Public Health. “The most important thing to me is to see people free from poverty and to also help alleviate suffering and sickness”.

What motivated you to study an MPH online with the University of Liverpool?

Online learning is learner-centred which gave me the opportunity to take absolute responsibility in my learning programme so as to achieve my goals in life. The flexibility that comes with studying online was also a huge factor that motivated me to pursue the online degree.

What are the main advantages of studying online?

It is very flexible. You can work, take care of your family and still study. Also because it is learner-centred, you are personally involved from start to finish unlike the teacher-centred studies that is dependent on the teacher.

What are the highlights and challenges of being an online MPH student?

For me, the highlight was how all the courses we did came together and really helped me in doing excellent research and writing a wonderful dissertation. The courses we did from start to finish were like little pieces of puzzles that when put together solve the puzzle. Time management was a challenge: I decided from the onset to cut down social activities and that was really helpful. And, of course, the other challenge I faced was that I gave birth to both my babies during my studies!

How is your study helping you to make a difference in your career and community?

The knowledge I acquired In the course of my studies will help me to inform policy makers on the best public health policies that will help to promote the health of my community.

I would recommend the University of Liverpool because...

I love the way the courses are structured and also the instructors are very good in imparting knowledge to their students.

Research on breastfeeding among HIV-positive women

Justina has been invited to present the findings from her MPH research – Breastfeeding among HIV-infected women in Gaborone, Botswana: A cross-sectional survey – at the prestigious American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting in Boston, USA, in November 2013.

“As someone who has passion for research and who is very inquisitive, I observed that in Botswana most women did not breastfeed their babies. I investigated and discovered that the main reason was that so many of the women were HIV positive. I wanted to also find out if they are aware that they can breastfeed with appropriate prophylaxis in place, even when infected with HIV,” said Justina.

Justina hopes that her research will help to improve infant feeding practices, especially breastfeeding, among HIV-infected women. She acknowledges the support provided by the University of Liverpool in helping her gain ethical approval from the Botswana Ministry of Health and in guiding her through the research process.

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