Men and women from 95 countries are helping their home communities cope with natural disasters and advance the level of public health, thanks to their training in the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Public Health and Community Medicine’s International Masters in Public Health (IMPH) Program. Dr. Norbert Rakiro from Kenya, for example, is the Senior Health Officer for 14 countries of East Africa for the International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent. During last year’s floods in Kenya, he reported, “We were out there saving lives.”
Some of the IMPH students, like Dr. Peter Waiswa, a 2003 graduate from Uganda, go on to acquire advanced degrees in prestigious institutions around the world, such as the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Others can be found in the leading universities of Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Some have academic appointments in the United States. Dr. Chinua Akukwe, a 1991 graduate from Nigeria, for example, is currently Adjunct Professor of Global Health at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Still others are working through non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Dr. Alexei Bobrik, a 2001 graduate from Russia, is the Executive Director of the Open Health Institute in Moscow. He received a 100 million-dollar grant from The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in Russia and neighboring countries.
Dr. Vladimir Lazarevik, a 2003 graduate from Macedonia, served as Deputy Minister of Health before becoming the Executive President of the 60th session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee for Europe. Dr. Josephine Ojiambo, a 1999 graduate from Kenya, was recently appointed Kenya’s Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Rina Hakimian, a 1998 graduate from the United States, is a Senior Attorney for the Public Health Division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Dr. Salanieta Saketa, a 1994 graduate from Fiji, is the Permanent Secretary of Health of Fiji. She replaced Dr. Lepani Waqatakirewa, also an IMPH graduate, now serving as National Advisor on Non-Communicable Diseases in the Fiji Ministry of Health.
Dr. Irakli Sasania, a 1998 graduate from Georgia, is the Chief Administrator of Central Children’s Hospital in Tbilisi, where he opened the first pediatric emergency care room. Dr. Alex Brown, an indigenous doctor from Australia and 1999 graduate, is Director of the Center for Indigenous Vascular and Diabetes Research at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia’s Northern Territory town of Alice Springs.
“Despite the heavy academic demands on the students’ time,” explains Program Director Dr. Yehuda Neumark, “we make a concerted effort to show them the treasures of modern and historic Israel. The students form strong personal relationships with their instructors, with each other, and with the country and they leave here with a love and understanding of Israel as well as academic expertise.”