Bloomberg School Alum Honored for Helping Contain Ebola Outbreak

Dean Michael J. Klag of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health presented the inaugural Bloomberg Hopkins Emerging Leader Award to Tolbert Nyenswah, of Liberia, at an awards ceremony in New York on Monday. The $100,000 award is presented to a current Bloomberg School student or alumnus who has demonstrated exceptional and inspiring public health practice and/or research.

Nyenswah, Liberia’s deputy minister of Health and Social Welfare and a 2012 MPH graduate of the Bloomberg School, led his country’s remarkable turnaround of the Ebola outbreak. Here is Dean Klag’s introduction of this deserving alumnus and public health leader:

Now I have the honor of announcing the inaugural recipient of the Bloomberg Hopkins Emerging Leader Award. Created as part of our Centennial celebration, the $100,000 award recognizes a current student or graduate who has demonstrated excellence and leadership in public health and shows continued promise in the field. 

"I am pleased to announce that the alumnus selected for the Emerging Leader Award is Tolbert Nyenswah, Liberia’s Deputy Minister of Health for Disease Surveillance and Epidemic Control. I can think of no one more deserving of this honor than Tolbert.

Tolbert came to the School’s MPH program from Liberia as a seasoned public health professional. He returned to his country, after graduation in 2012, to a top position in the Ministry of Health.

During the height of the Ebola crisis in 2014, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appointed Tolbert to lead the country’s response. He immediately changed the approach to epidemic control, consulted with communities that had been rioting, changed the leadership structure and began intensive supervision of Ebola control measures.

These changes were critical to the turnaround of the epidemic in Liberia.

Tolbert, we congratulate you on your lifesaving work that fulfilled the highest ideals of the Bloomberg School. This award will serve as the catalyst to move forward with establishing the National Public Health Institute of Liberia proposed by President Sirleaf. It will strengthen the foundation that you have already put in place to build sustainable public health systems for the future.

Tolbert Nyenswah, please stand and be recognized."

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