Dr Bereket Yakob Yota, a recent graduate of HEARD’s PhD Programme at UKZN has been appointed as a visiting scientist at the prestigious Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health. Dr Yota who graduated with a PhD at the University of KwaZulu Natal in 2016, has been selected to contribute to the Department of Population and Global Health with focus on Health Systems at the elite Harvard T.H Chan School of Public health.

Born in Ethiopia in 1980, Dr Yota has dedicated a significant part of his life to the field of public health. His studies began with Bachelor of Science in Public Health at Alemaya University, Ethiopia. He then graduated with Master of Public Health at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. In 2016, he graduated with a PhD in Public Health through UKZN’s School of Nursing and Public Health. The title of his PhD was Access to and acceptability of HIV/AIDS treatment and care services in Wolaita zone, Southern Ethiopia: A socio-ecological perspective. Shortly after the completion of his PhD, Dr Yota provided technical assistance to Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, specifically to the Maternal and Child Health Directorate. He was also a member of national Research Advisory Council and a member of Lancet Global Commission for High-Quality Health Systems in SDG (UN’s Sustainable Development Goals) era where he analyzed data on the quality of care, health inequity, and efficiency. He also had been involved in student supervision and examinations, provided consultancy services to several non-governmental organizations and had collaborated with the Global Burden of Diseases Group.

With a focus on Health Systems, Dr Yota’s appointment at Harvard’s T.H Chan School of Public Health will see him collaborate with Harvard analysts and conduct an analysis of big data to generate evidence for health policy making and program development. He will also need to provide evidence to health policy advisors/specialists for a project implemented by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“This appointment brings me learning opportunities whereby I work with renowned Harvard analysts and researchers to advance my knowledge and analytic capacities. It opens many doors to link up with many researchers around the world to share experiences, hold debates on different theories and perspectives and learn new ways of doing research/analysing data to embrace advances in the field of public health and grow, especially in health systems I am looking forward to being a lead researcher in the field of health systems (public health) and contribute to the efforts around the world to end preventable causes of deaths (especially of mothers and children). To achieve this, I will connect with all interested researchers, institutions, and donors, and will keep my eyes open for any good opportunities with Harvard as well as other institutions. “

There is no doubt that the hard work, dedication and success of Dr Yota proves the capacity of Africa’s leaders in the global fight toward affordable, equal and accessible health care. It also demonstrates the necessity to equip researchers with the education and tools through programmes like HEARD’s PhD Programme which allows for Africa’s future health leaders to be thrust into major global health platforms which influence and impact our continent.

“We congratulate Bereket on his new appointment as Visiting Scientist at Harvard’s School of Public Health.  Dr Yota’s success is an indication of the impact of HEARD’s PhD Programme in promoting high calibre scholarship on the African continent”, said HEARD research director Dr Kaymarlin Govender.