A few months ago, all Bloomberg School of Public Health Employees received an e-mail calling for nominations of outstanding students and recent alumni who are game changers in Public Health. Last week, Tolbert Nyenswah, MPH’12 was awarded the Bloomberg Hopkins Emerging Leader Award and the accompanying $100,000 cash award.
As a teenager, Nyenswah and his family lived in a refugee camp after fleeing the civil war taking place in his former village in southeast Liberia. However, it wasn’t until after pursuing legal studies that he found his career in Public Health. Prior to coming to the Bloomberg School of Public Health for his MPH, Nyenswah worked in a leadership role with the National Malaria Control Program in Liberia that saw malaria prevalence reduce from 66% in 2005 to 28% in 2011.
After completing his MPH in 2012, Nyenswah became the Assistant Minister of Health and Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Prevention which involved him in planning and organizing all of the national disease control programs. With the 2014 Ebola outbreak, he became instrumental in ending the worst Ebola epidemic ever known and for the incident management system that allowed public health workers to quickly detect and contain the outbreak. In 2015, Liberia recognized Nyenswah’s role and named him their first Deputy Minister of Health for Disease Surveillance and Epidemic Control.
Nyenswah will use the $100,000 for improving health systems in Liberia and across West Africa.