Dr. Patrick Kayembe—A Public Health Giant; A Valued Colleague
A beloved colleague and teacher, Dr. Patrick Kayembe, died on June 8, in Kinshasa. We at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA—along with our partners at the Data for Impact (D4I) project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—knew him as a friend and a source of inspiration and motivation. He will be greatly missed.
Dr. Kayembe earned his medical degree in his native Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at the University of Kinshasa School of Public Health (KSPH), where he later was dean of the school of public health. He earned his Master of Public Health in epidemiology and international health and his PhD in Public Health at Tulane. In his roles at both universities, he mentored and served on dissertation committees for countless students in the DRC and in the United States. At KSPH, he worked with us on several projects for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—the Global Early Adolescent Study and Performance Monitoring for Action.
He also was a co-investigator for D4I on an evaluation of an integrated health project in DRC, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
His experience and skills encompassed a full range of public health issues. He helped to evaluate health research capacity in Guinea and revise national policy on research. He designed a training plan for the National Program on AIDS in Burundi. He was a consultant to the World Health Organization, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance; and the United Nations Development Programme.
His first love and lifelong commitment was to his native DRC. His work spanned four decades in HIV/AIDS programming and policy, family planning, behavior change, clinical trials, Ebola, malaria, maternal and newborn health, and most recently the response to the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
His commitment to those on the margins of society was evidenced by his research and care regarding internally displaced persons; survivors of gender-based violence and the law enforcement and legal systems that address this issue; work among child soldiers, prisoners, the young, and the impoverished.
The world has lost a leading researcher in reproductive health in the DRC and in francophone Africa who advocated fearlessly for the most vulnerable and stigmatized among us. We will remember him for his meticulous work, his remarkable intelligence, his sharp wit, and his dedication to his colleagues and the people whose lives he touched so profoundly.