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July 24, 2008

De Beers African Health Scholars Named

Albert KombaThe Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has named two students as 2008-2009 De Beers African Health Scholars. The program aims to strengthen Africa’s public health infrastructure by training African leaders to improve the health system.

Albert Komba, MD, is a Tanzanian pediatrician and researcher in Dar es Salaam. As an employee at Wellcome Trust, Komba coordinates sickle cell disease research and participates in a number of research projects throughout Africa with a public health focus on HIV, malaria and malnutrition. Komba, past president of the National Medical Students’ Association in Tanzania and a recipient of the William Makene Memorial Prize for the best student in internal medicine, hopes to acquire the skills necessary to prevent disease and build a healthy Africa.

Joel SteingoJoel Steingo, MD, a South African physician, has a special interest in epidemiology and infectious disease medicine. As a medical officer, Steingo works predominately with HIV patients in antenatal clinics in the peri-urban areas of Cape Town and Johannesburg. He also works with the Keiskamma Health Trust and Department of Health to address the health care needs of HIV patients in the eastern Cape’s Peddie District. A Dean's Merit List and Academic Merit Scholarship award recipient, Steingo believes the MPH program at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will provide him with the tools to address the HIV crisis in South Africa.

“The people of Africa face many health challenges, which are often compounded by poverty and a lack of public health infrastructure,” said Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health. “The De Beers African Health Scholars Program provides a critical opportunity for these students to gain the skills needed to strengthen the health care infrastructure of Africa. They will become the public health leaders of tomorrow.”

The De Beers African Health Scholars program provides full tuition, as well as a stipend for living expenses and transportation for two African graduate students each year to earn their master of public health (MPH) degrees. Scholars participate in a practicum experience on a major health problem in Africa, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria or malnutrition. After completing their studies, the students return to Africa to apply the skills they have learned.

"Communities are built, in part, on access to quality health care. As a proudly African company, De Beers believes that business has an important role to play in strengthening African communities by creating a sustainable skill base of trained doctors that form an important medical foundation from which a community can grow,” says Rosalind Kainyah, president of De Beers Inc. “We are proud to be supporting Albert and Joel and look forward to following their progress in the years ahead."

Public Affairs media contact: Natalie Wood-Wright at 410-614-6029 or nwoodwri@jhsph.edu.