One can easily lose track of Prof Ruairi Brugha’s academic titles (MB, BCh, BAO, MD, FFPHMI, MSc, DCH, Dip Obs, Dip Humanities) when reading his bio. They are the result of more than 40 years dedicated to investigate and to improve public health.
Next month, Prof Brugha, current Head of Department of Public Health and Epidemiology at RCSI, will be saying good-bye to his department colleagues and will depart to start a new adventure somewhere else. Before that happens, we have interviewed him and asked a few questions about his career.
He remembers his time in Africa as an incomparable experience that transformed his outlook on medicine and life. While pop culture was exploding in Europe and the Spice Girls were about to take over international music, Prof Brugha was facing the challenge of the impoverished reality of a neglected continent.
After years of research in Ghana, Prof Brugha moved back to Europe and worked for 10 years at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. In 2005 he started his long and successful journey here at RCSI, but it was in 2010 when a colleague made a proposal that would impact deeply on his future work.
This offer would drive him to get involved with COST-Africa first, and with SURG-Africa most recently, a project for which he has been the Principal Investigator since 2017. Having experienced directly the lack of surgical services that disproportionately affects rural areas of many African countries, he has dedicated the past years to evaluating the model of non-physicians delivering surgery in order to provide people from Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania the opportunity to access life-saving surgery.
Prof Brugha goes back to the continent that so deeply marked his life, professional and personally. He will leave for a while the cold waters of the Irish Sea, the stone-paved streets of Dublin and getting into crowded suburban trains with his fold-up bike. But he will carry with him the commitment to reaching the furthest behind the first with essential surgical care.