Antonio Hegar (MSc Public Health, Environmental Stream, 2013) works as an Epidemiologist at the Ministry of Health (MoH), in Belize. In this blog, he describes how COVID-19 has affected his work and affected his outlook.
“COVID-19 has forced me to not only put all my skills and training in public health to the test, but to simultaneously learn and grow in every conceivable way as our team and I at the MoH attempt to keep up with all the latest updates on the nature, behaviour, and responses to the outbreak around the world.
“I have been based at headquarters where my responsibilities primarily involve analysing all manner of data on COVID-19 in Belize with respect to morbidity and mortality, as well as a bit of modelling to get a sense of possible scenarios down the road. These findings are then passed on to clinicians, contact tracers, and others on the frontline.
“Given our resource scarce setting, COVID-19 has essentially been an all-consuming daily responsibility on my part. In practical terms this has meant the partial side lining of other infectious disease programmes and data collection, although this has improved somewhat of late. On a positive note, COVID-19 has also strengthened partnerships between various departments, government ministries, and paved the way for increased funding from various international health agencies.
“Perhaps more than any single course or analytical technique, my time at LSHTM prepared me to be forever questioning and learning. Regarding the latter point, the school environment instilled in me a desire to seek out knowledge in even the most unlikely of places, and from people of all backgrounds in health and non-health related fields, as this is often where one finds solutions to the tough questions.
“I think it would be a fantastic idea for all alumni to share their experiences – technical, medical, and humanitarian – on the alumni website for mutual support and learning.”