Public health policymaker - Patricia Nagi Mechael

From: Egypt and the USA
UK degree: PhD in health-related uses of mobile phones in Egypt at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Patricia is a now a Global Health Ambassador and strategic advisor to government ministries, businesses, NGOs, UN agencies and academic institutions around the world.

You PhD was in health-related uses of mobile phones – what does that mean?

The evidence is now growing that personal communication technology, especially mobile phones, can improve access to information and services where they were not able to deliver in the past.

This has so many opportunities for improving health outcomes, especially for children and mothers. It can help us effectively treat diabetes and other non-communicable diseases, promote better mental health outcomes and save costs.

Why did you choose to study in the UK?

The UK was the only study destination that had the foresight to take a risk on a doctoral candidate who, while working in South Sudan in 1999 asked, 'What if we used cell phones to support health?'.

I had already done a master’s degree in public health in the USA, but no college I could find was ready for a PhD on mobile phones and health.

I owe a debt of gratitude to the UK for providing a platform for me to pursue my PhD on the topic of health-related uses of mobile phones.

Was there anything else that you gained from your time in the UK that helped you on the path to success?

My UK degree truly gave me confidence in that respect

Throughout my 20-year career in global health, I have maintained a clear vision for the transformative power of science, technology and innovation to shape a better world for those most in need.

One thing I’ve learned is that you need tenacious leadership skills and capabilities to chart a path to achieve that vision.

My UK degree truly gave me confidence in that respect. I was frequently required to present my work and I was respected as an authority on this subject even while I was a student.

Where has your career taken you to date?

These days I am often introduced as the first PhD in mHealth. I am frequently invited to keynote, guest lecture and participate in high-level consultations at prestigious events and institutions.

My strategy, policy and implementation work extends from engagement with key UN agencies, including UNICEF, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, the Pan-American Health Organization, the International Telecommunications Union, the Global Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as governments and implementers in over 30 countries.

I believe my work is a critical building block for precision medicine and will help facilitate the achievement of an HIV and AIDS-free generation and mitigate global threats such as Ebola.

Patricia Nagi Mechael was the winner of the Alumni Award for Social Impact, USA 2016. 

Patricia speaking at a conference
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Patricia speaking at a conference

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