Fighting to make healthcare a human right 

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Isabelle Doraz is an eighth-semester student continuing studies and pursuing a master’s in special education. Doraz joined Partners in Health Engage during her freshman year because she was interested to learn about global health advocacy. She is the current president of UConn’s Partners in Health Engage chapter. Partners in Health Engage is a grassroots organization focused on health advocacy and education around the world. 

“Our work is so incredibly important because as students, most of us are fortunate enough to have access to healthcare, but this is unfortunately not the case for so many around the world,” Doraz said. “This year, our campaign is supporting the Maternal Center of Excellence in Sierra Leone, the country with the highest maternal mortality rate in the world.” 

Currently, Partners in Health Engage is organizing a virtual marathon and walk to raise money for the Maternal Center of Excellence from April 24 to 30. The Maternal Center of Excellence is a center designed to help reduce maternal mortality rates in Sierra Leone, according to its site. For every 100,000 childbirths in Sierra Leone, 1,360 mothers die, according to Doraz. While in the U.S. that number is 23.8 deaths per every 100,000 births. Partners in Health Engage hopes to reduce maternal mortality in Sierra Leone through fundraising and education. 

“This virtual 5K is designed not only to raise funds for the Maternal Center in Sierra Leone,” Doraz said. “It is also to show our solidarity for the healthcare workers around the world who deliver care to the poorest and most marginalized people on the globe. We walk to support and raise awareness about the life-saving work of Partners in Health.” 

“OUR WORK IS SO INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE AS STUDENTS, MOST OF US ARE FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO HAVE ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE, BUT THIS IS UNFORTUNATELY NOT HTE CASE FOR SO MANY AROUND THE WORLD. THIS YEAR, OUR CAMPAIGN IS SUPPORTING THE MATERNAL CENTER OF EXCELLENCE IN SIERRA LEONE, THE COUNTRY WITH THE HIGHEST MATERNAL MORTALITY RATE IN THE WORLD.”

Isabelle Doraz

Doraz added that Partners in Health Engage differs from other health organizations on campus because they advocate for health rights both in the U.S. and internationally through members of Congress. Additionally, the club seeks to engage students to join the right to the health movement and fundraise for healthcare.  

“For me, the most impactful moment was during our training institute in 2019,” Doraz said. “During this, members of Partners in Health Engage from around the country came together in Washington, D.C. to participate in “Hill Day,” where we met with over 100 members of Congress on Capitol Hill to advocate for the Global Fund. The UConn chapter met with both Senators’ offices from Connecticut and two of our representatives. It was so amazing to see how many dedicated Engagers we have across the country and see that together, we can really make a difference in this world.” 

Though it’s small now, Doraz hopes to expand membership in the club. Students who believe that healthcare is a human right and those who want to make a difference in the healthcare system should consider joining Partners in Health Engage, Doraz said. Club meetings run every Tuesday from 7 to 8 p.m. Those interested are recommended to email uconnpih@gmail.com. 

“I was a part of a lot of different clubs in high school, but before PIH Engage, I never felt like I really was making a true difference in the world,” Doraz said. “Now, when certain legislation passes, our network reaches our fundraising goals of over $100,000, or Partners in Health breaks ground on the Maternal Center of Excellence (which they did last April), I know that I am a part of lasting change.” 

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