WAHO: developing health professionals in the sub-region

The West African Health Organization (WAHO), the health agency of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) offers one year scholarships to individuals from its member states. Under this scheme, young professionals are selected to undertake internships in the region’s best research institutions.

Dr Anselme Simeon Sanou, WAHO intern from Burkina Faso says ‘I would really encourage those who appreciate quality science to come here.’

This year, The Unit is hosting WAHO intern Dr Anselme Siméon Sanou.  Trained as a clinician in Burkina Faso, Dr Sanou did his Masters in Epidemiology and two diplomas (Statistics and Epidemiology) at the University of Bordeaux (France). He has also done a number of online courses with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and USAID.

Prior to coming to The Unit, Dr Sanou worked on a number of projects and was a junior medical epidemiologist intern at the Biomedical Research Centre (Centre Muraz) in Burkina Faso. At MRC Unit The Gambia he is working on the epidemiological aspects of the Trachoma surveillance project.

The WAHO internship does not focus on the lab or field alone.  Dr Sanou says ‘Before placement at a research institute, you are  trained at WAHO’s headquarters in Bobo Dioulasso (Burkina Faso), to acquire knowledge and competence in the principles of public health, a second official language of ECOWAS (in my case, English), IT, as well as principles of management and leadership.

Undoubtedly, these placements add value to the careers of aspiring scientists. Dr Sanou says ‘MRC Unit The Gambia is one of the best places in the world in terms of biomedical research. Getting a position is very difficult and selective, but I really encourage those who appreciate quality science to jump all the hurdles to get here, as it’s a good opportunity.’

His anticipated next step is a PhD and the development of his research career.  Dr Sanou concludes ‘I thank WAHO and the MRC for giving me the privilege of working in such an excellent institution.’