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AIESEC Peacebuilder

70th Anniversary Edition

Melanie Bisnauth

HIV/AIDS Researcher | Canada/South Africa

AIESEC Experience:

Melanie completed an AIESEC Internship in 2013 where she worked in Australia as a Communications and Corporate Services Officer for St. Patrick’s Community Support Centre (SPCSC). SPCSC is not for profit organization located in Fremantle and provides holistic care for the homeless, those at risk of being homeless and the disadvantaged in Fremantle and the wider south west metropolitan area of Perth. There, she wrote and published SPCSC’s first annual report and was involved in developing community-based interventions. She developed strategic ways for funding Perth health care facilities of the centre and became a leader on the South West Metropolitan Forum for Vulnerable Youth at risk. Melanie provided outreach assistance with Aboriginal clients at risk or are experiencing homelessness by providing support services to assist them with improving their well-being and health in regards to issues of substance use. She achieved the Aboriginal Cross-Cultural certification for AOD by completing training workshops with elders and the WA Governments’ Drug & Alcohol Office in a collaborative environment.

Contributions to AIESEC’s Vision of Peace and Fulfillment of Humankinds Potential:

Melanie continues to pursue HIV/AIDS research, and currently works as a senior researcher with Wits Reproductive Health and the HIV Institute in South Africa. She is also completing a PhD in Population and Public Health in collaboration with the African Centre for Migration and Society through the University of Witwatersrand. “I decided to pursue my PhD in patient-centered care in South Africa because I wanted to provide a platform that would give voice to those often silenced – whether it’s the patients or frontline healthcare professionals,” Melanie’s focus is on strengthening the response to marginalized women in high mobility contexts who are facing accessibility barriers when it comes to the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) HIV health care services. This work builds on her Masters research. “My research has allowed me to develop and execute strategic interventions to create sustainable system-level program changes between executives, healthcare professionals and patients,” she explains. This research is now being used at Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital (RMMCH) and South Africa’s National Department of Health for effective and efficient improvement in PMTCT programming to improve the health of millions.

Biography:

Melanie Bisnauth is PhD student at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa in the School of Public Health in collaboration with ACMS. She currently works with Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute as a Senior Researcher in Healthcare Systems Strengthening. She served previously as a Research Coordinator in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto and CIHRRC Coordinator.

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