Humphrey Fellows improving
world public health
Among them, the 10 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows currently in residence
at the School of Public Health have studied at some of the world's most
prestigious universities, worked in some of the neediest nations and devoted
their careers to daunting tasks: eradicating polio in China, halting AIDS
in Botswana and Trinidad, treating leprosy victims in Yemen, preventing
tetanus deaths during childbirth in Ethiopia, improving the water supply
This year-on leave from established careers in their home countries-these
10 leaders have come to Atlanta to explore the best of current approaches
in international public health. "I felt we were using stagnant strategies,
and I wanted experiences that would help me develop new skills to improve
the health of rural women and children in my country," said Shashu
Araya Zegeye, a public health nurse and resource programs manager for a
nongovernment development organization in Tigray, Ethiopia.
Like her Humphrey colleagues, Zegeye was selected for the fellowship
after a highly competitive process that involved her country's U.S. Embassy,
the U.S. Information Service and the Fulbright Commission. As resident fellows
at the Rollins School, the Humphrey Fellows take classes, do directed research
and establish valuable liaisons with global health experts at Emory, The
Carter Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CARE and
numerous other Atlanta-based institutions. When the year of study is finished,
they will return to their home countries to apply what they have learned.
This unusual fellowship program-started by former President Jimmy Carter
in 1978 in honor of his longtime friend, the late senator and vice president
Hubert Humphrey-brings some 120 mid-career professionals to the United States
each year for further study in fields such as public health, economics and
finance, public policy, agricultural development, technology, journalism
and communications, and urban and regional planning. The host universities
are chosen competitively every five years, with all the fellows going to
the same institution. Among the 10 universities selected for 1993 to 1998,
the Rollins School is the only school of public health.
"For Emory and the School of Public Health, the Humphrey Fellows
program is an excellent way of expanding our reputation around the world,"
said Philip Brachman, the school's Humphrey Fellowship coordinator. "The
fellows are also an excellent resource for faculty and students throughout
the University. They come to the U.S. not only to learn but also to share
themselves and their knowledge and cultures with the American people."
This year's Emory-based fellows-a diverse group of men and women from
Africa, Asia and Latin America-seem well prepared to adopt U.S. policies
and techniques that might help them in their own countries. "I was
attracted by the courses in public health policy and management, which are
very relevant for my work at home, and so far the program has shown me much
more than I bargained for," said Habaudi Njiro Hobona, a surgeon and
hospital superintendent in Botswana who holds medical degrees from London
University and the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. At the same time,
however, Hobona expresses dismay at the financial insecurities of U.S. medical
care. "It surprises me how much the U.S. health care system depends
on what seems to me to be a lot of begging-this grant, that grant-rather
than on a culture and a government committed to funding properly,"
Khami Chokani, medical superintendent for the Ministry of Health and
Population in Malawi, agreed. "I was so surprised by the extreme poverty
and need in the U.S., especially in the cities," said Chokani, who
holds degrees from the University of Rajasthan R.N.T. Medical College and
the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. He sought the Humphrey
Fellowship to expand his health planning and management skills in serving
a Malawian population that is one of the most rapidly growing in the world.
Ali Suleiman Amour of Zanzibar-an environmental engineer by training
(Leeds University, England)-described the interwoven challenges of economic
diversification, increased tourism and public health on his island home.
"The pollution level is still quite low, but there are beaches that
are no longer suitable for swimming, and some of the coral reefs are destroyed,"
he said. "Coming to the U.S. as a Humphrey Fellow was a way for me
to learn more about water supply and these kinds of issues in a modernized,
developed environment. One thing we can learn from studying and observing
in the U.S. is how not to make the same mistakes."
to April 6, 1998 Contents Page