National Institute for Communicable Diseases, South Africa
Dr. Cheryl Cohen, a researcher from South Africa, used her time with Fogarty to learn new analytic skills to estimate the excess mortality associated with influenza in South African seniors. This study is important because there is no estimate of the mortality burden of influenza anywhere in Africa so far. Additionally, Dr. Cohen came to Fogarty.
Dr. Cohen received her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 1997 and her Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 2000 from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. She also received a Master of Science in Epidemiology from the London School Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2005. Dr. Cohen’s interest in epidemiology was a natural way for her to merge all of her interests, bringing together her clinical and microbiology knowledge to work on public health projects at the micro and macro levels. She notes that, “epidemiology is really about making sense of the world and describing underlying patterns in the distribution of disease”. After completing her masters in epidemiology, Dr. Cohen began work at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, in Johannesburg, as head of the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit. Additionally, she is also the editor of the Communicable Diseases Surveillance Bulletin and serves as a member of several committees and working groups with agendas of promoting public health in South Africa. When questioned as to what she believes is the most important public health issue for South Africa, she responds, “the biggest issue in South Africa is inequity with regard to access to health care as well as basic services, such as water and sanitation, and this inequity extends globally as well. Poor and marginalized people are still less likely to have the burden of their diseases measured and consequently have resources allocated to combat them. In South Africa there is great awareness of the role of equity and the challenges faced by the poor, so hopefully this will improve.”