- Published on Thursday, 29 October 2009 14:13
Three BU School of Public Health alumni who have taken different routes to make their marks in global health have been honored with Distinguished Alumni Awards for 2009.
The awards, which are in their 21st year, recognize graduates who have made outstanding contributions to the field of public health on a local, national or international level. The awards are being presented during a reception Nov. 9 at the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.
This year's recipients are: Ayo Ajayi, MD, SPH '82, who is vice president for field programs for PATH; Mireille (Mickey) Aramati, SPH '86, a global health consultant; and Onyeka Obasi, SPH '05, president and founder of Friends of Africa International, Inc.
Dr. Ayo Ajayi was the BU School of Public Health's first-ever international student, earning his MPH in 1982. Since then, the one-time physician who had practiced in his native Nigeria has dedicated himself to improving health on a global scale.
Dr. Ajayi is now vice president of field programs for PATH, a large global-health organization, leading strategy development and implementation for PATH's country programs in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. He represents the organization internationally and nationally and serves as the primary liaison between PATH headquarters and field offices.
Before joining PATH in 2008, he worked for 16 years with the Population Council, serving as regional director for sub-Saharan Africa. Previously, he worked for Pathfinder International and served as a government health officer in Nigeria.
Dr. Ajayi, who received his Medical Degree from the University of Ibadan Medical School in Nigeria, earned his MPH in Health Care Systems. He became a program associate at the BU Health Policy Institute, helping with a health-training collaboration involving Suez Canal University in Egypt. He also taught classes at BUSPH and was a resident advisor for the summer institute in international health.
Dr. Ajayi went on to become Africa regional vice president for Pathfinder International, a Massachusetts-based non-profit agency, spending 10 years in Kenya before moving on to the Population Council.
Dr. Ajayi serves as a board member for the Africa Health and Population Research Center, which he helped establish, and as chair of the advisory committee on access for the International Partnership for Microbicides.
Mireille (Mickey) Aramati, former president of the BUSPH Alumni Board, has been a manager of international reproductive health and maternal and child health projects for more than 20 years. She has provided technical assistance and training to health ministries, public and private-sector institutions, non-government organizations (NGOs), universities and training centers. Her work in global health has taken her to Egypt, Jordan, Tanzania, Madagascar, Malaysia and other countries.
Now a Boston-based global health consultant, Aramati had enrolled in BUSPH after many years spent working in banking and finance. She had been drawn to the public health field through her work as a financial manager on the Suez Health Training Project in Egypt, a project undertaken by the Office of Special Health Programs at the BU Health Policy Institute.
After she received her MPH, Aramati went to work for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, as director of finance for the Healthy Start program, which provides prenatal care for low-income, uninsured women. She went on from that job to work in the health department's childhood lead-poisoning prevention program as MCH Coordinator.
In 1990, following her interest in international health, Aramati spent eight years as technical assistance manager and director for Egypt programs in reproductive health at Pathfinder International. She went on to provide technical assistance and training in health programs in Tanzania, Morocco, Egypt, Bangladesh and other countries, as senior program associate for Boston-based Management Sciences for Health.
In 2003, Aramati went to Washington, DC, as a public health contractor to assist the USAID Office of Iraqi Reconstruction in coordinating health services in that country. After that, she worked as senior reproductive-health policy advisor at Futures Group, providing technical assistance to Egypt, Jordan, and Madagascar.
As a global health consultant, she has expanded her work in reproductive health to encompass HIV/AIDS programs and capacity building. Most recently, in the Philippines, she conducted the Health Business Climate Legal and Institutional Reform pilot country assessment as a member of the Booz Allen Hamilton team, focusing on the health program aspects for Governing the System indicators.
Aramati, who is fluent in French and Arabic, is currently a member of the BUSPH alumni board and the Boston University Alumni Council.
Onyeka Obasi is the president and founder of Friends of Africa International Inc., a non-profit organization that provides research-oriented policy advice, advocacy, training and resources to regional and international institutions through multifaceted programs in Africa. She founded the organization in 2005, after graduating from BUSPH. The organization focuses on post-conflict African countries and has implemented projects in Sudan and Liberia on human rights, democracy and electoral assistance.
Obasi has worked with various non-profits in Africa, facilitating seminars and training programs in the field. As president of FAI, she initiated the first-ever Pan African Youth Leadership Forum, which has become an annual event. The forum creates a platform for young Africans to engage in constructive dialogue on issues affecting the development and democratic governance of African countries and allows them to present recommendations to African leadership.
Obasi is currently the Africa Program Researcher with the International League for Human Rights, where she is responsible for the UNDP-funded "Enhancing Capacity for Women's Human Rights," which has established the first mobile legal-aid clinics for rural women in Northern and Eastern Nigeria. She also is responsible for the League's Voice of Youth Project in Sierra Leone, which utilizes media to bring issues impacting young citizens to the national dialogue. She has made presentations to various institutions on the effects of war on women and girls, and is committed to promoting conditions for gender equality.
Obasi also has consulted for the Women's Environment and Development Organization, where she was responsible for the United Nations reform process and gender equality issues, specifically related to a report of the United Nations Secretary General's High Level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence, in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment. The report put forth a series of recommendations to enable the UN to serve the needs of all countries in its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and other international goals.
Her previous work included serving as a program officer for the Legal Defence & Assistance Project in Nigeria, where she helped to develop projects to end trafficking in women and girls. She was part of a team that designed advocacy initiatives for the passage of the law on violence against women in Nigeria. Her publications include "Zero Tolerance - Nigerian Men against Domestic Violence."