Dr. Bryan Tegomoh wanted to help more patients. Tegomoh is a trained physician who grew up in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde. After spending two years in rural northwest Cameroon, he saw scores of some of the most vulnerable groups in the world falling sick with Hepatitis B, malaria and HIV-related infections. “My perspective began to change,” he shares.
He considered clinical medicine to be a “wonderful thing” but there was a downside: he could only attend to one patient at a time. Alone, he was no match against stark statistics like having at least one episode of malaria — a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that ended the lives of nearly half a million people globally in 2019 — each year. He began to think more about population health, seeking impact beyond himself, and to question the status quo. “What can we do to impact whole populations from a public health perspective? How can we develop tools to help many more people?” he asked.
This search led him to UC Berkeley School of Public Health. He applied for a Global Public Health Fellowship and, in the spring of 2019, became one of five students — researchers, physicians, and scholars from Uganda, Malawi, Cameroon, Brazil and Nicaragua — who made up the first cohort of fellows. During his pursuit of a Master’s in Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology (MPH), Tegomoh worked alongside Dr. Lee Riley, professor and chair of the infectious diseases and vaccinology division, continuing to research parasitic malaria from a population health perspective. The goal of the fellowship? To build public health capacity in developing countries.
A relevant and accessible education
2020 was a devastating year for public health. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted all aspects of life as we knew it. Over two million lives have been lost to the virus as of Feb. 10, 2021. In a damning report, a World Health Organization (WHO) panel wrote: “We have failed in our collective capacity to come together in solidarity to create a protective web of human security.”
The knowledge, skills, and experience of public health professionals offer the world a chance to remedy this—and to get it right for the next emerging diseases. UC Berkeley faculty members, some of the most recognizable and influential names in this field, play pivotal roles in this mission.
Dr. Sandra McCoy studies how social, economic and cultural forces influence disease transmission and health outcomes. She has collaborated with researchers in the US, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa to design and evaluate interventions that can improve sexual and reproductive health among adolescents and adults. Dr. Arthur Reingold has spent over 40 years working on the prevention and control of infectious diseases both at the national level, including eight years at the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Joseph Lewnard uses mathematical and statistical modeling to study the transmission dynamics of infectious disease agents and the effectiveness of interventions such as vaccination.
The 27-month Online Masters of Public Health (MPH) program was designed to reduce inequity and injustice that surround the health and dignity of all. Designed for working people, this interdisciplinary program combines courses in the following study areas: Health Care Management; Health Policy and Economics; Global Health; Epidemiology, Infectious Disease, and Regulatory Science; Community Health Sciences; and Spatial Data Science for Public Health. Students can complete a concentration option in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, which covers disease occurrence and distribution analysis, computer implementation of analytic methods, and other investigative and statistical methods to evaluate risk factors associated with disease outcomes.
Following on the success of the initial 2019 program, UC Berkeley is now offering scholarships to 25 new Global Public Health Fellows, both international and domestic, in addition to a continuing fellowship for the original cohort of five. The program will integrate the following: mentorship, research projects, global health training fellowships, robust cohort experiences, field placements and post-training support. In response to current travel restrictions, 10 individuals will be selected from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) for the online MPH.
“I know we will find students who will be changemakers in shaping how we tackle health challenges in resource-poor communities around the globe, who will be driven to imbue the values of health equity, innovation and collaboration in their career choices,” says Hildy Fong Baker, Executive Director of the UC Berkeley Center for Global Public Health. “I am so excited to meet these early career professionals — and I’m even more excited imagining what they will be doing after our program,” Baker said.