For 18 years, Jean Pierre Habimana has worked as an epidemiologist in both public and private health organizations, everywhere from local health centers to international organizations. Though, he began his career as a nurse at a district hospital in his home country of Rwanda. From this time, he recalls a particular outbreak of meningitis that resulted in many deaths inspiring him to go back to school and shift his career to focus on population health.
What is Jean Pierre currently working on?
Today, Jean Pierre works with Integral Global and the CDC in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a focus in waterborne disease surveillance, specifically that of cholera and typhoid. In this role, he provides technical support for cholera and typhoid outbreak preparedness throughout the country. Currently, Jean Pierre is tackling the complex work of preparing both emergency and routine cholera vaccination campaigns that must consider the DRC’s various hotspots of vaccine resistance. He emphasizes the importance of health behavior education in the success of such vaccination programs.
One success story from Jean Pierre’s career that he is most proud of is a training program that allowed community health workers (CHWs) to administer rapid diagnostic confirmation tests for malaria to children under 5. Before the CHW-led testing program, the confirmation rate for diagnostic tests administered at a health facility was only 50%; the CHW-led program, on the other hand, ultimately demonstrated a confirmation rate over 98%.
While he knows that the persistence of health problems and its relation to poverty can be discouraging, Jean Pierre urges himself and his peers to always keep context in mind when doing public health work and celebrate small successes. Ultimately, Jean Pierre hopes to see the eradication of cholera in the DRC, and be among those who accomplish it.