Ak’ingabe Guyon wins 2018 Public Health Physicians of Canada President’s Award

MSc in Communicable Disease Epidemiology alumnus (1999), Ak’ingabe Guyon has won the 2018 Public Health Physicians of Canada President’s award.

Public Health Physicians of Canada (PHPC) established its President’s Award to recognize PHPC members who have made an outstanding contribution to the society. Ak’ingabe received this award for her outstanding contribution to public health and preventive medicine. This is partly a reflection of efforts carried out by Ak’ingabe and other colleagues to analyse and denounce the current weakening of public health in Canada, articles of which were published by the Canada Journal of Public Health and the Canada Broadcasting Corporation.

Ak’ingabe chose to study an MSc in Communicable Disease Epidemiology in 1999 because of the breadth and excellence of LSHTM’s international expertise, its dynamic and innovative pedagogical approaches, and the diversity of the professional and international experiences of the LSHTM student body and professors. “Studying at LSHTM profoundly altered my professional choices. After the MSc, I pursued a year of LSHTM-led intervention research in Tanzania and then decided to embark in an additional decade of medical training and fellowship in public health.”

“The relationships I formed at LSHTM allowed me to work for a year as a research assistant on an LSHTM-led HIV prevention project in Tanzania with a world-class team of researchers. This further clarified my decision to become a clinician and public health practitioner. Furthermore, I developed enduring friendships from my year at LSHTM.”

Ak’ingabe told us that receiving the PHPC President’s Award is an extraordinary honour. “It’s both immensely uplifting and humbling. Uplifting because it is a national recognition of the arduous work I led with numerous colleagues across Canada in order to document a very preoccupying situation – a generalised weakening of public health structures and processes in the country. This work was carried out at night and during weekends; it was not part of our ‘day jobs’ as public health practitioners and professors. We led that work, deemed impactful by our colleagues and by several public health institutions in Canada, because of the urgency to denounce and reverse such public health erosion, and because of a true passion for the work of public health. It is also humbling to receive this award – I work on a daily basis with extraordinary colleagues, unsung heroes of public health. No one achieves public health victories alone.”

Ak’ingabe is currently a Public Health and Preventive Medicine Specialist; Assistant Clinical Professor at the School of Public Health, Université de Montreal; and Medical Lead of the Health of Adults and Elderly Team, Public Health Clinical Department, Direction de Santé Publique de Montreal. She hopes to build at least two specific public health successes in the coming years:

1) improving the ability to analyse and strengthen public health systems and services. “The field of public health systems and services research is underdeveloped and yet crucial in setting the foundations for prevention focused health systems. We deserve and need more research that can guide the design of our prevention systems’ governance, financing and interventions. We also need to demonstrate explicitly and relentlessly how public health work increases health, equity and yields returns on investments. My recent contributions to opinion pieces and an editorial in the Canadian Journal of Public Health can hopefully contribute to this.”

2) strengthening public health practitioners’ capacity to influence public policy through their daily work. “Strengthening public health practitioners’ capacity to influence public policy through their daily work, with very practical competencies in public relations, negotiation, political science, public administration, etc. I am already involved in strengthening these skills with a local community of practice and through teaching public health trainees. I hope to continue to build useful tools and pedagogical strategies so that skills in influencing public policy become core competencies among public health practitioners.”

Ak’ingabe advises current student to follow their inspiring colleagues and teachers. “Public health practice is an exciting but extreme sport in terms of teamwork. The ride is much more exciting when your colleagues are great teammates. Pick your battles and make sure you are fighting them with people you can learn from and laugh with.”

Congratulations Ak’ingabe on your award, we are proud to have you as part of our alumni community!

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