5 Questions with Arnaud Le Menach
Our monthly check-in with staff from around the world. Learn more about the people who work at CHAI.
Please tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to CHAI.
I grew up in France and studied veterinary medicine there. I have always been fascinated by public health and pursued a more academic career with a PhD in quantitative epidemiology. While I was doing a post-doc in the US, I had the opportunity to work with CHAI on a project related to malaria elimination and was immediately drawn by the work of the organization, its impact on global health, and how they use data and evidence to advance public health goals. I was looking for an opportunity to use and apply my technical skills to directly address public health challenges and when the opportunity presented itself a few years later, I joined CHAI. That was more than eight years ago now!
1. What is it like working in global health during a pandemic?
It has been a challenge to see so many people’s health, jobs, and lives affected by the pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic many disease programs were disrupted but were able to promptly resume their activities, including the distribution of bed nets which save countless lives every year. Unfortunately, as the pandemic continues, we may see further disruptions to global health progress. As an epidemiologist, it has been a challenge to balance the desire to contribute more to preventing and controlling COVID-19 while continuing our malaria work, which has a direct impact on reducing disease burden in our partner countries. And as a global team member, I have not been able to spend time in-person with colleagues and with country disease programs as borders are closed and traveling has stopped. But I am hopeful that as more people around the world get vaccinated, we will be able to see each other in person soon.
2. What is the best thing about your job?
Two of the best things about my job are the people and CHAI’s mission. I really enjoy working with smart and motivated colleagues who always push each other to do more and better, and knowing that what we do has a direct impact on improving public health across multiple countries.
3. What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
Zip lining in Boquete in Panama. Boquete is a town on the Western mountainous part of Panama where the weather is usually a bit chillier than the rest of the country which is usually hot and humid. I was there on vacation with my spouse, and we decided to try zip lining for the first time. However, we were dressed for the tropical weather of Panama, and when we reached the top of the mountain it got very cold. As we were descending, the fog came down and we could not see where the next tree was! All in all, it was a fun experience, but I will be more prepared next time!
4. What does a typical day at CHAI look like for you?
After more than eight years at CHAI I have learnt there is no such thing as a typical day. Every day is different from the other, and this is a testimony of how stimulating the work is. My daily work may include touching base with the team on project progress, brainstorming with colleagues on how to address challenges, and exploring new ideas to be more impactful. On other days, it may involve recruiting new team members as projects expand, interfacing with donors to discuss project outputs or writing proposals for new topics, as well as analyzing epidemiological data to understand the impact of our work, sharing exciting findings and lessons from our work at meetings and conferences.
5. What are three words that you describe you?
Curious, organized, and considerate.