Metro Halifax: Accessible care, climate change and more being studied in Nova Scotia by international students this summer

The IWK Health Centre is getting a jump start on creating accessible programs for parents of children with developmental delays and disruptive behaviour disorders, thanks to an international internship program.

Brazilian university student, Lisandra Oliveira, 24 is trading in the sunny beaches of Brazil for a cramped, dark office at the Halifax children’s hospital in order to create a new standard of accessible care. She is digging through more than 7,000 medical research papers to determine the best care practices, and most successful ways of reaching patients.

The results of Oliveira’s work will be used to create programs in conjunction with the Strongest Families initiative to support families with children affected by cerebral palsy, fetal alcohol syndrome, Down syndrome, and other developmental delays.

“A lot of families are not well treated, they don’t have access to health services, so it’s sometimes easier to get to them through telephone or computer,” Oliveira explained Thursday in her office.

Oliveira’s involvement with the program gives the IWK the opportunity to expand into international fields. They are now starting the process of working with researchers in Brazil, and possibly looking at how the IWK’s programs can help those impacted by the Zika virus.

“It doesn’t do any good to be the best in Nova Scotia, but you have to be aiming to be the best in the world because it’s an international competition,”project supervisor Dr. Patrick McGrath said Thursday.  

McGrath and Oliveira say that this “study of studies” is only the first step in a three to four year process towards reaching the final goal of an actual program ready for patients.

Oliveira is just one of 19 international students who are part of Mitacs Globalink’s 12-week internship program.

Other students in Nova Scotia are studying a variety of different subjects, including ways for plants to fend off disease and the correlation between sea spray and climate change.

By: Ben Jamieson