Born in the slump, raised in extreme poverty, Dr. Mosoka P. Fallah has become yet another shining Liberian star, not only at home, but also in the Diaspora where his redemption from poverty and material backwardness originated as a result of his acquisition of quality education, and a shift in his once blurry perception of life.
Remarkably heart-touching as his life story ensues through unprecedented episodes, the Harvard alumnus has been not only recognized by this prestigious university for his indelible contribution to society but granted a respectable lecturer position at the school.
Dr. Fallah’s Alma matter, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, recently called on him to contribute 50 hours of his time to students through mentorship, lecture and direct classroom engagements on a wide range of medical topics, including service provision, disease surveillance, and disease management systems.
In an interview with the Daily Observer on Tuesday, August 14, the learned medical professional said his is not to celebrate the call to teach at Harvard, but to appreciate God that he has gotten the opportunity to contribute, over the years, now and tomorrow what is significant in the health sector and that has the means to help transform the crumbling system.
Fallah said that his call to teach is “surprisingly true, but it was a lot of work that put him on the map of recognition.”
“My last study at Harvard was in 2011/2012 when I did my Masters in Public Health with concentration in infectious diseases and epidemiology,” Fallah said.
He said that after his studies, there were several other opportunities in the U.S. and other parts of the world for him to choose, but decided to come back to Liberia as consultant to United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“While on the project, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) struck, so I immediately got a call back to the States by my ex-wife and friends; but I disappointed them, because I love my country. I stayed on and faced all the threats associated with the terrible experience,” he said.
He added that in the months that followed, his wife put in for divorce.
“My wife put an end to our marriage, because I was stubborn by staying in Liberia and fighting to bring an end to the deadly EVD,” Fallah said.
On the details as to his knowledge on why Harvard chose to nominate him for the teaching job, he said the first experience was when he went to Boston on October 3, 2015, and received a visiting scientist post at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and a Visiting Lecturer/Public Health Specialist at Indiana University.
He said as a graduate of so prestigious a university as Harvard, it is a compelling requirement that one does a lot of research on one’s area of specialization, publish articles and, in some cases, textbooks.
“I have written a lot of research papers and contributed a chapter to a book written by one of my colleagues on a wide range of health issues,” Fallah said.
He said if anything should be considered about the driving force behind his rise to societal stage, it should be his fight against the deadly EVD in Liberia.
After the EVD, government considered the advice to establish the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), in order to tackle, with vigilance, the deadly diseases that threaten a population and country.
He was appointed and is serving the NPHIL as its deputy director for technical services, a position he holds in high esteem.
In that capacity, he provides supervision for the Divisions of Epidemiology and Infectious Disease, Public Health and Medical Research and Public Health Diagnostics.
“NPHIL started as a result of the outbreak of Ebola and, as a unit of the Ministry of Health, our job is to always prevent outbreaks of diseases,” Dr. Fallah said.
He said that NPHIL has a preventive division and epidemiology division (it is about keeping surveillance on diseases such as Lassa Fever, cholera, Ebola, etc.)
“There is a national reference lab where disease specimens or samples are tested, and we now have a Medical and Public Health Research Department, which look at pieces of advise on tackling public health challenges, such as maternal mortality, garbage disposal risk management, which is tied to environmental health, and so on,” he said.
As of the discovered and reported Ebola Virus strand in Sierra Leone recently, Dr. Fallah said health workers’ job is to always anticipate, prevent, detect and respond when prevention fails.
“The Ebola virus strand was confirmed true, but what is good to know is that the case in Bambala District, Sierra Leone, has not been proven of having legitimate ground, I mean to infect human beings. It is about animals. The five strands of EVD come from rats and bats, which are the major carriers of the virus,” Fallah said.
“I love my country, and so I have resolved to serve my people with all my heart,” he said, adding that there is a great need for Liberians in the Diaspora to dedicate their nationalistic loyalty to the country by giving at least 10 percent of whatever time and resources they have.
Fallah said global health security, which is tied around disease prevention, detection and response is of importance and his mission is to support all systems that seek to strengthen the process.
Fallah, who holds PhD, MPH and MA is a public health consultant. He was recently made a Visiting Scientist in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health.
He is the Principal Investigator for the largest Cohort study on Ebola Survivor in Liberia. During the Ebola crisis, he served as the Head of Case Detection in the Montserrado Incident Management System, administering critical aspects of Liberia’s Ebola response.
In this capacity, he has been providing technical support to the Montserrado County Health Team since the inception of the Ebola epidemic.
Dr. Fallah provides training for surveillance, contact tracing, case management and community mobilization.
He was instrumental in developing the training of trainers’ workshops for health workers across the national response. Fallah has experience in international development work, including serving as a consultant on a USAID-funded project with Indiana University and the Liberian Ministry of Health, developing a program to train mid-level public health staff.
WHO (World Health Organization) recently asked Dr. Fallah to serve as a co-lead of the Personal Protective Equipment end user Technical Working Group. He served as a member of the Harvard Global Health Institute and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola, which includes Peter Piot, the co-Discoverer of Ebola, Chelsea Clinton, and Julio Frenk, Dean of the Harvard Chan School of Public Health.
Dr. Fallah received his Doctor of Philosophy in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in 2011; a Master of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2012; a Master of Arts in Evaluation and Measurement from Kent State University in 2006, and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry/Biology from the University of Liberia in 2001.
He was a highlighted recipient of Time Magazine’s title of Person of the Year in 2014 as an Ebola fighter.