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Hasina Alokozai

Improving Maternal and Child Nutrition  

Five years after Hasina Alokozai was born in a refugee camp in Pakistan, she returned to her home country of Afghanistan.

In elementary school there, she received several lifesaving public health interventions through UN sister agencies, although she didn’t realize it at the time: deworming tablets, vitamin A drops and polio vaccine, and biscuits and milk to stave off the malnutrition prevalent in her rural village.

“I have personally experienced the positive impacts of public health interventions to prevent malnutrition. Without them, I wouldn’t be here.”

By the time she attended college at Kabul Medical University, Alokozai decided to major in public health to provide the same kind of help to others that she had received. Working with her undergraduate mentor—Bloomberg School alumnus, Akmal Samsor—her thesis assessed the knowledge and practice of behavior change theories among public health practitioners whose work focused on improving maternal and child health. She continued in this field after graduation, working first for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health then for UNICEF’s Afghanistan office as a nutrition officer.

After the Taliban returned to power in 2021, Alokozai and her family received asylum in the U.S., settling in Atlanta, Georgia, where she has worked as a public health interpreter and translator for other recent Afghani refugees like herself. An MPH from the Bloomberg School will help her continue her public health journey, she says, giving her the skills to develop, implement, and analyze humanitarian maternal and child nutrition programs here  and in her home country, when she is able to return.

“An MPH will enable me to work more effectively in the complex health system in Afghanistan and achieve my ultimate goal to improve maternal and young child nutrition,” Alokozai says.