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Prof. Kofi Mensah Nyarko

PhD, MPH, MB.ChB

Position:
Ag. Dean - School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

BRIEF PROFILE:

RESEARCH AREAS/ INTERESTS:

Research Areas/ Interests:

Professor Kofi Mensah Nyarko is a medical doctor who holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree as well as PhD in Public Health Epidemiology. He has excellent expertise in clinical medicine, public health, epidemiology, program management, health systems, policy, and strategic plan development; research and monitoring and evaluation with over 20 years experience. He has worked at all levels of the health delivery system, and at senior management levels in national health systems.

The developing global health issues of emerging and re-emerging diseases such as pandemic influenzas as well as the current COVID-19 pandemic, SARS, Ebola Viral Disease, Marburg Viral Disease, Cholera and meningitis are mostly due to climate changes and other environmental challenges within the ecosystem. This has dangerous implication to human health. As a result, Prof. Nyarko has worked over the past 13 years to build capacity of several health and allied professionals within the one health concept to strengthen the public health surveillance system into a robust and resilient system to be able to respond to these inevitable public health threats and pandemics especially within Africa where the health system is weak and lacks the requisite capacity to respond to public health threats or pandemics. An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere, due to global connectivity, the next epidemic is often only a flight away as was observed in the current COVID-19 pandemic. Using a one-health framework where humans, animals and the environment are viewed as interconnected, he has built the capacity of health and allied professionals across these related fields and trained jointly to respond to public health emergencies in Africa.
Prof. Nyarko has excellent expertise in health system strengthening including emergency preparedness and response and has led several outbreak investigations and response efforts in sub-Saharan Africa and trained and mentored over 500 field epidemiology residents and ministry of health staff in surveillance system strengthening and outbreak response in Africa. His trainees and mentee are now holding key position of leadership in various ministries of health and other allied agencies in Africa. Others are also supporting the capacity building drive to increase the number of highly skilled workforce who will respond to the public health threats in the continent and beyond. He has a multi-country experience and has worked in several African countries in capacity building and public health research. As the Program Director for the Ghana Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program at the University of Ghana from 2012 -2016, he led the field epidemiology capacity building effort in Ghana and other English speaking west Africa countries (Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone) with funding from WAHO and WHO, trained and mentored several field epidemiologists. He also established the Ghana Center as a sub-regional hub for training for the English-Speaking West Africa. This has helped in building a robust and resilient system for preparedness and response to public health threats in the sub-region.

As part of bridging the public health workforce gap, he also served as the Resident Advisor for field epidemiology and laboratory training in Namibia from 2016 – 2019 where he led the national public health workforce capacity building for field epidemiology within the one health framework from a very limited national capacity with weak surveillance system to a much-improved critical outcomes in the public health system, including enhancing public health surveillance systems which respond effectively and rapidly to public health emergencies. He is also the immediate past country lead for Africa Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) in Sierra Leone and was also Resident Advisor of the Sierra Leone Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) in Sierra Leone from 2019 – 2021, where he contributed in the building and strengthening the post Ebola outbreak weak public health surveillance system in Sierra through coordination and capacity building on the Field Epidemiology Training Program and also provided epidemiology advice to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to strengthen the health system and the surveillance system including cross-border surveillance. He also led the NIH/CDC award on Strengthening the sustainability of Global Health Security objectives in Sierra Leone as the principal investigator. In addition, he supported the community health system program in the country and led the mortality surveillance system program in Sierra Leone referred to as the Rapid Mortality Surveillance (RMS) funded by Resolve to Save Lives and Vital Strategies through AFENET which was able to estimate the excess mortality due to COVID-19 among other key mortality indicators and thus provide the MOH with real-time mortality data for decision making. During the current COVID-19 pandemic during the delta-variant wave, he also supported Namibia as a WHO -Consultant in the COVID-19 response by providing leadership to the MOH and supported coordination of the epidemiological response, supported activities for the planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and management of the COVID-19 response in collaboration with other pillars including documenting the experiences and lessons learnt to guide the response to avert future waves. His efforts has resulted in a more prepared and robust surveillance system and thus helped to reduce the devastating effect of public health threats in Africa and thus has ensured a global health security. This has resulted in significant reduction in the impact of pandemics on the African continent.

Prof. Nyarko is an adjunct Professor of Public Health at the College of Medicine and Allied Sciences, University of Sierra Leone, and was also an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the School of Public Health, University of Namibia. He is currently the Dean of the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, University of Environment and Sustainable Development, Ghana. He has been involved with several epidemiological studies including reviews, assessments, and clinical trials. He has won research grants, conducted various epidemiological research and has over 135 publications (including peer review journals articles, conference papers and proceedings, and contribution to chapters in textbooks). He received a plaque of excellent leadership for his contribution to field epidemiology training in Africa by the Ghana Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program at the1st Ghana FELTP Scientific Conference and 10th Anniversary Celebration of GFELTP in Accra, Ghana (2017).

In addition to his contribution in field epidemiology and public health emergency and response, he has distinguished himself in other areas such as cancer epidemiology where he looked at the environment risk factors and breast cancer among black women and other priority public health diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, meningitis and other non-communicable diseases. He has also consulted for several international and multilateral organizations such as UNDP, WHO-AFRO, UNICEF, WAHO, Global Funds, PWC and Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

He has excellent leadership, managerial and negotiation skills, good inter-personal relationship, cross-cultural skills and an excellent team player. He has the ability to work collaboratively with multiple partners and teams at all levels. He also has excellent analytical and organizational skills with ability to coordinate, plan and implement multidisciplinary projects and activities.

1. Communicable Diseases
2. Public Health Surveillance
3. Disaster Risk Management
4. Non Communicable Diseases
5. Climate Changes and Health”

1. Communicable and Non Communicable Diseases
2. Public Health Surveillance and Disease Outbreak Investigations
3. Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response
4. Climate Change and Health
5. Disaster Risk Management
6. Occupational Health and Safety
7. Maternal, Child and Reproductive Health

Employment Records

Professional/Teaching Experience

2022 – date: Ag. Dean, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, University of Environment and Sustainable Development, Ghana
2021- 2022: Head, Department of Environment and Public Health, University of Environment and Sustainable Development, Ghana
2019 – 2021: Resident Advisor, Sierra Leone Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), Africa Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), Sierra Leone
2016 – 2019: Resident Advisor, Namibia Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (NamFELTP), CDC-Namibia/ MoHSS
2012 – 2016: Program Director, the Ghana Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (GFELTP), (Ghana Health Service/ School of Public Health, University of Ghana).
2012 – 2016: Program Manager, NCDs Control Program, Disease Control and Prevention Department -Ghana Health Service.
2009 – 2012: National Cancer Control Focal Person & Deputy Program Manager, NCDs Control Program, Disease Control and Prevention Department – Ghana Health Service.
2003 – 2005: Medical Superintendent, Tepa District Hospital, Ghana Health Service, Ashanti Region, Ghana)

2021 – Adjunct Professor: College of Medicine and Allied Sciences, University of Sierra Leone
2018 – Associate Professor: School of Public Health, University of Namibia
2007 – 2016: Adjunct Lecturer: School of Public Health University of Ghana