International Health Alumna Works on Ebola Response at WHO

OCTOBER 14, 2014 – Sascha Meijers (NHS’10) is several weeks into her work to provide support for the Ebola response at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva.

The international health alumna joined the organization as a technical officer a year ago, and she is now a consultant on the information management team for the Ebola response.

Obligation to Work Hard

Meijers supports the production of semiweekly Ebola situation reports, helps to keep the information management team running smoothly, and tracks the priority strategic activities for the Ebola response team.

“The work has been non-stop for six to seven days a week, with 12-13 hours a day,” says Meijers. “While I am exhausted and constantly busy, I feel an incredible urge and obligation to continue working hard, because I know that it is a necessary part of the whole to stop the outbreak.”

Meijers says she currently spends more time with her colleagues than with her friends and family. “It can be really tough at times, but each time there is a small achievement, it gives us the energy and motivation to keep going,” she says.

Outbreak Response 

Meijers says that the WHO’s approach to outbreaks is tailored to the specific circumstances. In the Ebola case, the organization deployed a number of staff, consultants, and teams to the affected areas, both directly through the organization as well as through the Global Outbreak & Alert Response Network.

The WHO coordinates – through formal and informal mechanisms – with its partners, such as the other United Nations agencies or international organizations, NGOs, and local communities.

“That really helps in a situation like this where the capacity to respond, cooperation, consensus, and data sharing are important,” says Meijers.

Career Path

Prior to joining the WHO on a full-time basis, Meijers interned with the organization’s Western Pacific Regional Office in the Philippines as part of her international health practical experience abroad in the fall semester of her senior year at Georgetown.

After graduating from the School of Nursing & Health Studies, Meijers started her career at Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm, where she managed projects related to traumatic brain injury and psychological health issues in service members returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“My education at Georgetown provided me with the intellectual and subject knowledge on the international health domain and all of the players involved,” she says, noting that Georgetown prepared her for the many acronyms used in the field.

By Masha Mikey (S’15)