Julius S.M. Gilayeneh, Sr. (IHTM 2016)
Deputy Director General for Technical Services/Chief Scientist, National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL)
Julius has responsibility for the technical oversight and supervision of Liberia’s Disease Surveillance and Emergency Preparedness and Response Systems, in-country Public Health and Medical Bio-Medical Research, Laboratory diagnosis and Quality Standards at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory, Public Health Workforce Capacity Building, and Environmental and Occupational Health.
Before IHTM he practised as a medical doctor in obstetrics and gynaecology in Monrovia.
Having worked in challenging environments in hospitals serving poor communities in Liberia, Julius became frustrated by the lack of infrastructure and resources that were necessary to make proper diagnosis and provide adequate care for patients. He wanted to equip himself to better analyse inadequate health systems and to be able to address the challenges. He says,
“From day 1 of IHTM I knew this was the place to be to help me navigate the problems I had encountered. The course promotes a systematic, framework approach to public health problem solving. It encourages comprehensive analysis, looking at evidence, contributing factors and influences and teaches the skills and tools to help address public challenges in LMIC settings.”
During his IHTM placement, Julius worked on a project looking at Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, in Liberia and Sierra Leone and to what extent the evidence from the outbreak was used to inform policies to treat EVD. Findings showed that the critical infrastructure needed for research was not always available in resource limited contexts and neither were the needs of the local country always considered.
The IHTM placement influenced Julius’s career choices, opting for a policy making role where he could implement the teaching from IHTM to ensure evidence was utilised in policy generation. He says,
“Researchers need to be empowered to produce good quality evidence. IHTM teaching incorporates study design and applicability to research questions as well as understanding statistics, all of which are essential to good research.
There will always be challenges and internal and external influences such as government and multilateral organisations that all have to be navigated.”
IHTM equipped Julius with the knowledge, skills and broad understanding of public health problems to enable him to function in resource limited settings. The leadership and communication elements of the course have been important in navigating stakeholder engagement and managing competing priorities and interests.
Further collaboration with IHTM has been through the Oxford Maternal and Neonatal Health (OMNeo Health) initiative bringing together alumni to examine the persistent maternal and neonatal health challenges in Papua New Guinea and Liberia. Julius is looking to promote further collaboration with the Oxford tropical network and his workplace.
The last word
“IHTM has been instrumental in setting me on the pathway of becoming a leader in global health care. It was an experience that changed my perspective and approach to public health problem solving, especially within the context of resource poor countries.”