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Leading Liberia's Ebola Response

Tolbert Nyenswah, Leading Liberia's Ebola Response

Bloomberg School alum coordinates his country’s efforts during the Ebola crisis.

 

As Ebola cases and deaths surge in Liberia, Tolbert Nyenswah is working at the center of his country’s battle to curb the outbreak.

Nyenswah, the Assistant Minister of Health, is relying on more than a decade of public health leadership and community advocacy—and an MPH degree he earned from the Bloomberg School in 2012.

“I feel great serving the public health arena,” Nyenswah says. “This is what I studied at the Bloomberg School, and I feel comfortable doing this on a day-by-day basis.”

At the helm of Liberia’s Incident Management System, he is coordinating efforts of the government and outside partners like the CDC, WHO and Médecins Sans Frontières. Nyenswah works to ensure measures like nationwide social mobilization and the distribution of hygiene kits household-to-household.

His greatest barrier: Misinformation. Rumors and fear have blocked efforts to bring the disease under control. In response, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and its partners have been broadcasting health promotion messages on radio stations and rallying faith leaders to help inform people about Ebola and what they can do to protect themselves.

“We all know Ebola is a frightening disease, and unfortunately we are still in the phase of explaining to people that Ebola is real, what it can do, and why it must be dealt with immediately,” Nyenswah says.

With the disease continuing to burn through West Africa, Nyenswah observes that the most important element to stopping the outbreak is working at the community level to control disease transmission. 

—Salma Warshanna-Sparklin

The MPH Program