background image
ith over years ex erience wor in or the entre o isease ontro
o t ines how her ast h manitarian ex erience and achievements
have aved the way or her new ro e at
Dr Muireann Brennan (Class of 1985)
has recently embarked on a new role
of Epidemiologist/Medical O cer
seconded to UNICEF's O ce of
Emergency Programmes (EMOPS)
in Geneva, Switzerland. Her new role
is another major achievement for the
veteran humanitarian, who has worked
tirelessly in war-torn countries, helping
to implement and coordinate health
initiatives, which include vaccination
campaigns, emergency ood response
systems and evaluating under-resourced
health systems and nding solutions to
save lives in challenging circumstances.
For over two decades, Dr Brennan has
developed programmes in countries
ranging from working in Muslim Health
in central Bosnia to strengthening
epidemic disease surveillance in Jordan.
While working with the CDC, she has
been seconded to the World Health
Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the
O ce of the United Nations High
Commissioner on Refugees, the United
Nations O ce for the Coordination
of Humanitarian A airs and USAID's
O ce of Foreign Disaster Assistance.
A er earning a medical degree from
RCSI, Dr Brennan went on to receive
a doctorate in medicine from Trinity
College Dublin and an MPH from Johns
Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public
Health. Her humanitarian career began
in her third year at RCSI, when she
travelled to northern Kenya with RCSI's
Overseas Elective Scheme (TOES) to
work with recent RCSI graduate, Dr
Tim O'Dempsey (Medicine, Class of
1981). At this time Dr Brennan was
studying tropical medicine under the
tutelage of Dr Kevin Cahill and was
also in uenced by the late Dr Robbie
McCabe, who specialised in this subject.
Dr Brennan maintains that, although
it is di cult to say when and where
her passion and ambition for working
in this particular area of international
health began, this experience certainly
cultivated an interest in her to work in
this area of medicine. "You step on a
path and you don't see the end of it, so
you just keep going."
Since she joined CDC in 1996 as an
Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS)
O cer, Dr Brennan's work has covered
wide expanses of the globe. She has
led an evaluation of the emergency
health system in Darfur; responded
to ooding and a cholera outbreak in
Pakistan; and supported humanitarian
response activities in northern Syria.
She also coordinated vaccination
campaigns in Afghanistan; evaluated
and strengthened mortality surveillance
in refugee camps in Ethiopia; conducted
surveillance for gross violations of
human rights in the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DR Congo); and
served as medical coordinator for over
one million refugees in Syria and Sierra
"I have gone from researching adult
diphtheria in Russia to working on
vaccination programmes in Somalia,
where I was assigned by the CDC
to UNICEF. Somalia was one of
the toughest countries to work in
negotiation-wise. Warlords were
commonplace and the negotiating
process in implementing the polio
vaccination programme, was a complex
and interesting one. Dr Brennan and
her team went to each district in
o ste on a
ath and yo
don t see the
end o it so
yo st ee
Dr Brennan and her team were responsible
for the `mosque to mosque' measles
campaign in Afghanistan.
RCSI MattersSRH.indd 34
03/03/2016 11:56