Why We Do What We Do: Patrick Byam

Patrick Byam, program manager for GHLI, recognized his interest in health during his undergraduate years at McGill University. Initially majoring in biology, Patrick realized that he wanted a career outside of the lab. “I was tired of learning about flies,” he explained. “I wanted to work in health outside of the lab and the hospital.”

His first global health encounter was through the Canada World Youth Program, an experience that involved working in community health in rural Canada and China. “Through that program, I realized that I really needed technical skills, such as skills in statistics and epidemiology,” Patrick said.

After obtaining his M.P.H. in epidemiology of microbial diseases from Yale, Patrick joined GHLI in his current capacity, which includes examining the impact of the Ethiopian Millennium Rural Initiative. “One thing you hear a lot in the news is people saying that we poured all this money into Africa and we don’t see any results,” Patrick said. “My work involves making sure that these interventions meet the desired goals.” Through evaluating health interventions, Patrick’s work helps ensure the sustainability and social accountability of these programs.

One particular experience Patrick relays captures the importance of his work. “During an on-site visit to a health center in northern Ethiopia to corroborate data, myself and colleagues encountered a grandmother with her emaciated, malnourished grandchild. The child’s mother had died while giving birth, and the grandmother was feeding the baby cow’s milk, which is harmful to newborns. We were able to quickly enroll the child in a nutrition program, which helped to save the baby’s life. I realized the benefits and limitations of global health programs and just how much of a need there is for effective, sustainable health interventions,” he articulated. “Our work means making people healthier and transforming communities.”

Shatreen Masshoor, GHLI Intern
Yale College 2012

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