Environmental Expert Dreams Of Better Public Health In Africa
For more than two decades, Egide Nizeyimana Louis has worked in environmental science in the United States, but his aspiration to improve public health in sub-Saharan Africa never diminished.
Louis, who already has three master’s degrees and a Ph.D., is returning to the classroom this semester to earn his MPH.
“You can do it whenever you want, if it’s what you’ve always wanted to do,” he said.
Louis has worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta for the last 13 years, assessing human health risks associated with exposure to air and water pollution. Prior to that, he spent a decade conducting environmental research at Pennsylvania State University.
His jobs have required data analysis and an understanding of environmental quality. Louis says he will draw on that knowledge and work experience to fulfill his desire to become an epidemiologist.
“I want to make the link between environmental and social determinants of health and disease occurrences,” he said.
That desire was rekindled last year when he worked on a USAID-funded water quality and sanitation project in the West African nations of Burkina Faso and Ghana.
Many sub-Saharan African countries experience the same health problems, including Louis’ home country of Rwanda: influenza, malaria and waterborne diarrheal disease. Growing up, Louis saw children and neighbors suffer and die because of malnutrition and diseases that are preventable and treatable in the developed world.
“It just hit me,” Louis said. “Public health is much needed there, and I want to be part of the solution one day.”