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2017-2018 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows

2017- 2018 Fellows

hubert h. humphrey fellowship alumni


About the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program

The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program was initiated in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter to honor the late senator and vice president, a long-time advocate of international cooperation and understanding.

President Carter saw the program as a means to support the development of both public- and private-sector professionals who were committed to public service in their countries. The program brings accomplished mid-career professionals from designated developing countries of Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, the Near East, South and Central Asia, and the Western Hemisphere to the United States for one year of non-degree graduate study and practical professional experience.

Applicants apply through the U.S. Embassy in their country, where first-level screenings are conducted. Selection is highly competitive. Fellows are nominated by the United States Embassy or Fulbright Commission based on their potential for leadership and commitment to public service. Final selection is made in the United States by expert panels of review. Awards are made by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Each year, approximately 200 Fellows funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State engage in non-degree study and related professional experiences at selected American universities. Started in 1978, the program now has a network of over 5,200 alumni in 159 countries around the world working to improve their communities and the lives of those in need. This year, 167 Fellows from 90 countries are assigned based on their professional fields to 15 U.S. host universities.

Fellows at Emory University focus on epidemiology, health education, and public health policy and administration. Fellows at other campuses are professionals in fields that include economics and finance, public policy, agricultural and rural development, technology policy and management, journalism, communications, urban and regional planning, substance abuse, law and human rights, education, natural resources, environmental policy, and climate change.

The Humphrey Program at the Rollins School of Public Health began with a class of 11 Fellows in the fall of 1993. To date, the School and the Hubert Department of Global Health have hosted 222 Fellows from 96 different countries. Emory continues the special HIV/AIDS concentration program that was initiated in 2004. Fellows participate in special programs, seminars, and site visits on HIV/AIDS. This fall, 14 new Fellows arrived at Emory in August to pursue individualized curricula in all aspects of public health to learn more about American society and culture as well as to educate Americans about their societies and cultures.

2017-2018 Humphrey Fellows

Adeniyi Aderoba

Dr. Aderoba is a project and research-oriented obstetrician and gynecologist who graduated from the University of Benin, Nigeria, and completed two postgraduate fellowships at the West African College of Surgeons and the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria. Following graduation, varied exposure to the pressing social needs and health disparities afflicting society further developed his interest in maternal and child health, as well as public health policy and management.

At present, he serves in the Hospitals Management Board of Ondo state in southwest Nigeria as the head of obstetrics and gynecology in their busiest referral hospital. Additionally, Aderoba leads a number of public health initiatives and is highly engaged in volunteer services. He coordinates the activities of the control program for HIV/AIDS of the Mother and Child Hospital Akure, Nigeria, which provides HIV services to over 20,000 people annually. As chairperson of the Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria in Ondo State, he engages in strategic advocacy with the government to improve the welfare of health workers and the health status of the population. Through his work in the Gestational Diabetes Society of Nigeria, he also hopes to achieve a national policy of universal screening and gestational diabetes care.

Aderoba promotes the use of evidence and accountability in resource allocation as a means of provoking positive action in health as the chairperson of the Ondo State Accountability Mechanism for Maternal and Newborn Health. He strives to juxtapose policy-relevant research with clinical practice and has collaborated on a number of international studies. His interest is in design and implementation of effective health policies and programs, health system strengthening, public health finance, and universal health coverage.

Rakhat Akmatova

Dr. Akmatova is from the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia. She went to medical school at the Kyrgyz Russian Slavic University and graduated from her clinical residency with a specialty in vascular surgery in 2009.

She started her professional career as an on-call doctor in the Resuscitation and Intensive Care Department of the Kyrgyz Scientific Center of Hematology, where she worked with patients who had different hematological diseases and leukemia. She then started working in the Republican AIDS Center, where she was responsible for supervising the implementation of a HIV/AIDS program in the penal system of the Kyrgyz Republic. There, she attended to both civilian and penal system patients with HIV and viral hepatitis co-infections. While working for this organization, Rakhat became interested in the scientific aspect of HIV/AIDS. Jointly, with a local professor, she conducted research and published two articles in local scientific journals. Also, as part of a DAAD scholarship, she worked jointly with German colleagues on HIV/AIDS and viral Hepatitis G; she was a co-author of the publication in a peer-reviewed international journal.

From 2013 to 2017, Akmatova worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross as part of the Kyrgyz Republic Delegation. Her first project in this organization included the implementation and supervision of the TB program in the penal colony #31 which is located 41 kilometers outside Bishkek, the capital city. In 2015, she started an online master’s program of public health, which she continues during her fellowship year.

Akmatova came to Emory University within the Humphrey Fellowship Program to improve her capacity building and knowledge in conducting research and publishing scientific papers. 

Williefrank Benson

Dr. Benson graduated from the Cuttington University with honors in 2007. He then enrolled at the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine and obtained a Doctor of Medicine in 2013. Immediately after graduating, Benson worked throughout the Ebola outbreak in all departments as an intern and persevered through many challenges.

In 2015, Benson was appointed as the medical director of the Referral Hospital in Buchanan Grand Bassa County. In this post, he had numerous responsibilities including overseeing all aspects of managing the county hospital (medical services, quality of care, administrative, financial, and human resources); providing guidance for and supervising clinical activities in all departments; submitting monthly health statistics to the county health team; among others. In October 2016, Benson continued his education in Monrovia at the Liberia college of Physicians and Surgeons, specializing in pediatrics.

Benson identifies many challenges in Liberia’s health care system, highlighting the lack of trained specialists and professionals. “Liberia presently does not have a single anesthesiologist, radiologist, clinical pathologist," he says. "Not more than five Liberians are currently in the major sub-specialties in Liberia, namely: obstetrics, pediatrics, surgery, or medicine. The current doctor-to-patient ratio is 1:10,000.”

Nevertheless, the need for Liberian doctors and the passion to help his country has overwhelmed his “drive to stay and work and change the system in Liberia. Liberia needs more doctors and health care professionals who will explore other health care systems and seek to bring positive change in ours.”

Upon his return to Liberia, Benson hopes to become a public health specialist with a keen interest in preparedness and to establish an NGO or work with one that focuses on the preparedness needs of vulnerable populations in Liberia—especially women and children.

Zenaida Martinez Blanco

Zenaida Martinez Blanco earned her degree as a registered nurse at Veracruzana University. Blanco completed her birth doula certification through DONA International (Association of American Doulas) in 2013. She then completed her master's degree as a certified childbirth educator by Lamaze International in Anahuac Mexico North University. Since 2014, she has worked as a nurse and childbirth educator preparing over 6000 women, couples, and siblings for childbirth-focused indigenous groups in Oaxaca. She has developed teaching materials for birth classes for educators, doulas, nurses, doctors, psychologists, pediatricians, and gynecologists for the prevention and treatment of traumatic childbirth.

Blanco is a co-founder of the International Center for Humanized Birth Studies in Oaxaca City. In this role, she has traveled throughout Mexico and to the Amazonian jungles in Colombia to train gynecologists, nurses, pediatricians, and midwives to decrease the rate of C-sections and traumatic births.

She is also the founder-director of the Oaxaca Edu Perinatal Center, (now the Maternas Center), which works “to promote the defense and care of women during the procreative process and the formation of the family.”

At the World Health Day Ceremony on April 7, 2017, Blanco received a gold medal from the President of the Republic of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, and an Honorable Mention for the Isabel Cendala y Gomez National Award in Public Health Nursing.

Blanco works as a volunteer childbirth educator in the Mexican Institute of Social Security and the National Health Institute for the Workers of the State. At Emory, Blanco is enrolled in courses on reproductive health program management and the technology of fertility control. She hopes to take a class on the global elimination of maternal mortality/morbidity due to unsafe abortion in the spring.

Irma Burjanadze

Dr. Burjanadze was born in Tchiatura, Georgia, and graduated from the Tbilisi State Medical University program of preventative medicine. In 2000, she started working at the Tchiatura City Hospital as a hospital epidemiologist. Since 2001, she has worked for the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health. She was appointed as head of the HIV/AIDS epidemiologic unit in 2007, then as a chief specialist-epidemiologist in the Department of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STDs, and Tuberculosis.

Since 2012, Burjanadze has coordinated the national HIV/AIDS program at the National Program Department. At the same time, she has worked as a Geographic Information System (GIS) specialist, participating in several scientific projects funded by the DRTA Cooperative Biological Engagement Program.

She studied GIS at the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, Enschede, and the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her professional interest is using GIS in disease control, and she co-organized a training course titled "Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in Disease Control Programmes." Burjanadze also created a genetic algorithm for a rule-set production modeling system through the CRDF small-grant program at the Spatial Epidemiology & Ecology Research Laboratory at the University of Florida in 2014. 

Rukikamirera Franklin

Dr. Rukikamirera Franklin has worked in the Rwandan health sector for nine years as a medical doctor and public health specialist. He earned his medical degree from the National University of Rwanda in 2009. Previously, he worked as the head of the maternity department at Ruhengeri district hospital. During that time, he was on the forefront of many reproductive health problems related to pregnancy complications such as unsafe abortions, maternal mortality, and maternal near miss. These challenges inspired Franklin to work with the district health-management team to address reproductive health problems in the community by educating teenagers, adolescents, and unmarried women about reproductive health, access to care, and rights.

Franklin went on to pursue a Master of Science in Public Health focusing on reproductive health and disease control at The Institute of Tropical Medicine in Belgium. He has also served as the director for the Women’s Health Program for Partners in Health and later on as director for Polyclinique La Medicale de Musanze. In these posts, Franklin worked to increase the uptake of Long Acting Reversible Contraception in the Kayonza district in Rwanda through on-the-job training initiatives. Before receiving the Humphrey fellowship, Franklin served as the medical director for Babylon Health Rwanda, a digital health care company offering digitalized health services through mobile phone technology.

Having tried both clinical and community intervention programs separately, Franklin focuses on formulating appropriate policies and programs aiming to improve teenagers,' adolescents,’ and unmarried women’s equal access to reproductive health services including contraception.

Rezida Galimova

Dr. Galimova is the chief of surgical departments, neurosurgeon at Republic Children’s Hospital. She has implemented several new programs including improving telemedicine emergency networks among local hospitals with the development of a special web portal; implementing “Kangaroo Mother Care” as an alternative method of caring for premature newborns with low and extreme weight; and organizing a human donor breast milk bank.

Galimova also oversees the entire surgical staff and programs designed to improve quality and efficiency of care with the use of Lean and Six Sigma technologies. This includes supervising the surgical departments and intensive care units, educational programs for surgeons, research programs, and improvement of surgical services. Galimova and her team have registered their hospital as a chapter—the only registered chapter from the Russian Federation—of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

Galimova earned her medical degree from Bashkir Medical University. During her residency, she completed a research fellowship on intraventricular hemorrhages in premature newborns and then worked as a pediatric neurosurgeon in Republic Children Hospital. In this role, she was able to significantly enlarge the epilepsy and intraventricular hemorrhages treatment programs in the neurosurgery department.

She has received several fellowships including the International Traveling Fellowship Award in Neurostimulation from the J. Kiffin Penry Foundation in 2013, the International Traveling Fellowship Award from The Joint Pediatric Neurosurgery Section of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in 2009, and the American Austrian Foundation – Open Medical Institute Internship/Observership in Neurosurgery Fellowship in 2008.

Galimova hopes to focus her development and work on health care management, including increasing her knowledge and skills with Lean and Six Sigma technologies.

Bekbolat Izbassarov

In 2006 Dr. Izbassarov graduated from West Kazakhstan State Medical Academy and received his medical doctor qualification. He completed a clinical internship in general surgery before starting his professional career as a general surgeon in one of the city’s polyclinics.

In 2011, after three years of working experience as a general surgeon, he completed a 10-month certificate training on health care management at the Kazakhstan School of Public Health. 

After this training, Izbassarov worked as a health care manager for three years in city polyclinic #4. As a health care manager, he was responsible for the coordination and control of medical care provided in the clinic and for the quality of provided services. Concurrently, he served as the chair of the Commission on Patient Rights and the Ethics Commission.

In 2012, he finished his part-time education at Aktobe State University with a bachelor’s degree in jurisprudence. In 2013, he entered the medical university and in 2015 graduated with a master’s degree in public health.

 In 2015, Izbassarov was appointed as deputy director for medical services quality control of city policlinic # 4. Izbassarov currently serves at the director of family medicine clinic at West Kazakhstan Marat Ospanov State Medical University. Izbassarov manages medical, educational, and scientific activities; proposes solutions to University Clinical Council in improving medical care; coordinates educational activities; and performs innovation implementation in the clinic.

Since 2008, Izbassarov has been a member of Aktobe Association of Physicians and Pharmacists, which is focused on right-to-health issues and mediation in health care. They also implement projects on AIDS and cancer prevention.

Zhenquan Jiao

Dr. Zhenquan Jiao graduated from the public health school at Harbin Medical University of China in 1994. He subsequently received his Ph.D. in food microbiology from the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine in 1999. He has done research at Gifu University for six months and at Indiana University for two years.

From 2003 to 2008, Jiao worked at the Office of Infectious Disease Control and Emergency Response, China CDC. He was responsible for unknown disease response and control, public health management, and joined the emergency response to SARS, avian influenza, swine streptococcus, plague, and disease control after the Shichuan earthquake. Jiao was assigned to the WHO Lyon office for six months and also served as the deputy director of Qinghai province CDC for one year.

Jiao is the current director of the Division on HIV/AIDS Control in Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission, which is responsible for national HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted disease, and Hepatitis C prevention and control. Jiao published the Chinese National Strategy Working Plan on AIDS Control (2011-2015) and (2016-2020).

During his stay at Emory University, Jiao hopes to focus his work on HIV prevention and control, especially for MSM key populations. He plans to enroll in some courses on HIV control, epidemiology, and global health, and to join an HIV prevention program on MSM at the U.S. CDC. Jiao wants to share experiences with other countries and to solidify partnerships for future cooperation. He also looks forward to touring local health departments and nonprofit organizations, attending academic conferences and seminars to broaden his public health knowledge, and strengthening his capacity in public health policymaking.

Fortune Nyasha Nyamande

Medical Students Association. In this role, he mobilized health students to engage in various community health advocacy initiatives. Through this role, Nyamande’s belief that “health is a basic human right and medical practitioners—students included—have to start thinking beyond the confines of the walls of the hospital if that basic right is to be a reality” was reinforced.

After completing his medical degree in 2014, Nyamande was elected as the national president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association. Through his leadership and negotiation, the government allocated an extra $18 million USD per annum for health workers’ salary adjustments in Zimbabwe.

Nyamande now serves as a government medical officer for the Ministry of Health and Child Care and as the National Spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights. He is responsible for various tasks, including providing clinical care to both outpatients and inpatients; conducting emergency surgical procedures and daily ward rounds; participating in monthly district health meetings; and supervising and monitoring visits to primary health care centers in the district. He also works with the Provincial Medical Directorate in implementing national public health programs such as the Expanded Program on Immunization, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission on HIV, and Malaria Control.

Nyamande is the founder of Youth Agenda Trust, which focuses on leadership development, governance, and sexual and reproductive health work among young people in rural Zimbabwe. He has also worked with the National Endowment for Democracy, the European Union, USAID, and the European Partners for Democracy on projects focusing on human rights and governance.

Rayza Rivera

Since she was a child, Dr. Rivera always “dreamed of becoming a doctor and being able to help people.” She has worked as an emergency doctor for 10 years. In 2009, she completed a master’s degree in public and occupational health. She now serves as a consultation doctor at Roberto Ramirez Polyclinic – Social Security System of Panama. In her role, Rivera works on sexually transmitted disease prevention and provides pre-HIV screening test orientation to patients. She also participates in seminars—delivering lectures to students and fellow doctors in her hospital.

Rivera believes that “proactive education is the cornerstone of control and prevention.” She visits secondary schools to give presentations to students to educate them about the prevention of transmittable diseases. Rivera is interested in developing a strategic methodology focusing on sexually transmitted diseases and populations with an increased risk of contracting HIV.

During her program year, Rivera plans to visit and connect with organizations such as CARE, the WHO, and PAHO. In addition, she wants to pursue a professional affiliation at the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health to gain expertise in this field. Ultimately, she wants to bring change in the way that HIV patients receive health care in public institutions and believes it is “imperative that we promote respect, integration, and fair treatment for all HIV patients.”

Malika Saba

Malika Saba was born in a remote area of Gilgit Baltistan. “Since my childhood, I observed my people suffering from many social problems in many sectors," she says. "[Most] alarmingly in the health sector. Public health issues like communicable diseases; health and hygiene problems; and lack of awareness about health problems, low immunization coverage, and limited availability of quality services in the region were the areas that convinced me to pursue the medical field and then public health.”

Saba believes rural areas need to be equipped with more health and public health professionals so they can play an active role in policymaking and implementation for their regions.

For the past four years, Saba has served as the manager of community health services for Aga Khan Health Services Pakistan (AKHSP). In this role, she ensures quality care for poor people in the Gilgit Baltistan region, a remote area of Pakistan. She has implemented policy regarding improving access to quality reproductive and child health care services. Moreover, she has monitored and evaluated different health programs among the AKHSP program population. Saba also efficiently fulfilled her responsibility as the regional quality improvement leader of the AKHSP PHC GB program. The team’s continued efforts helped AKHSP become certified as a Quality Management System ISO 9001:2000 in May 2014.

She has also managed 29 basic health centers and their operations. Additionally, Saba supports community mobilization for health promotion with the help of her field team and for effective utilization of health centers and outreach screening services offered by primary health care programs.

In the long term, Saba aims to learn more about the planning, implementation, and management of health programs as well as evidence-based practices and their role in policymaking and health systems strengthening.

Mody Sidibe

Dr. Mody Sidibe is a medical doctor in Mali. Before the Humphrey Fellowship, he worked as the monitoring and evaluation advisor for the Country Coordinating Mechanism, where he supported the Annual Plan Elaboration of Strategic Oversight Committee. The committee involves the, “principal recipients and national programs’ assessment, patients’ (HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria) rights promotion, and oversight activities.”

Before his work with the Country Coordinating Mechanism, Sidibe served as the HIV/AIDS monitoring and evaluation officer in the Kayes Regional Health district. He was responsible for collecting data from health districts (government or non-government agencies) about treatment and support of people living with HIV/AIDS, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, HIV/AIDS and HIV screening tests, and analyzing data before submitting to the national level.

Sidibe graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and Odonto-stomatology at the University of Bamako in 2002. He earned his master’s degree in international health in Alexandria, Egypt (2009) and spent three months at Colombes Hospital, France, to study the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.

During his program year, Sidibe would like to work with various agencies including USAID, CDC, WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS, the Carter Center, CARE USA, among others. He also hopes to connect with state and regional health organizations, Atlanta-based hospitals, and global organizations like the WHO and the World Bank. He looks forward to taking courses and seminars in health services research, health economics, and health policy and management.

Upon his return to Mali, Sidibe hopes to research and work on improving patient care in developing countries, specifically the care of HIV/AIDS patients.

Myint Myint Than

Dr. Myint Myint Than graduated with an MBBS in 1987 from the Institute of Medicine, Yangon, Myanmar. She also acquired a Master of Public Heath from Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand in 2003.

Than started her career as a medical officer—taking care of hospital in-patients and attending the outpatients’ department for medical, surgical, obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatric care.

In 1994, she moved to the Department of Health at the national level in the Ministry of Health to get involved in the broader picture of the Department of Health and engage in the overall planning, programming, and budgeting for the entire health sector. Her main interest was to engage in designing health services for rural areas and hard-to-reach areas including areas affected by conflicts.

Than has also worked with International Relations, the Central Medical Store Depot, the Law and Regulations Division, and the Internal Audit Division at the national level within the Ministry of Health.

Currently, she serves as director of child health development in the Ministry of Health and is responsible for the planning, programming, leadership, and management of newborn and child health and development in Myanmar. Since August 2014, she has also lectured at the University of Public Health for MPH students. During her program year, she would like to explore all possible ways to reduce newborn and child mortality rates and to improve their health and development to ensure that Myanmar achieves its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. She is also interested in universal health care coverage and health systems strengthening.

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Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows Alumni Map