Spotlight on Dr. Philip Musa

The Journal of Public Health Management & Practice recently welcomed Dr. Philip Musa to its editorial board. Dr. Musa is an Associate Professor and Program Director at University of Alabama – Birmingham. His background and research are in Information systems, Public Health, Management, and Engineering. He has published in dozens of academic journals and conferences. Dr. Musa has also served on several doctoral dissertation committees and as PhD External Examiner to other universities.

JPHMP Direct: Your background is in electrical engineering, information systems and operations, health disparities, and epidemiology. How do these areas of expertise inform your research and teaching efforts as Associate Professor of Management and Information Systems at UAB Collat School of Business?

Dr. Musa: First, I was born in a remote village in Borno State, Nigeria. We did not have any school, not even first grade. How I ever received elementary school education, much less anything beyond that, is a story for another day.

Having graduate degrees and experiences in multiple and seemingly unrelated fields was not pre-planned, but I have benefitted from it. Working on projects with different researchers has been a great experience. Perhaps having varied backgrounds makes it easier to see things from multiple perspectives. I have also come to appreciate the value of diversity by putting on different hats as needed to work on different aspects of a project and on different projects.

JPHMP Direct: You recently co-authored an article for the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice on the containment of Ebola and polio in Nigeria using principles and practices of public health emergency centers. Other research has focused on low- and middle-income countries. Do you have a particular research interest in the socio-economic impact of public health in developing countries?

Dr. Musa: Absolutely! As the saying goes, health is wealth. One of the reasons I studied epidemiology is to integrate it with my knowledge of information systems, project management, and social determinants of health to explore the possibilities of making a difference in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Black belt region of Alabama. One of my research streams focuses on assessment of information systems infrastructure and adoption of telemedicine to enhance quality of life and socio-economic well-being.

JPHMP Direct: That same research article “Containment of Ebola and Polio in Low-Resource Settings Using Principles and Practices of Emergency Operations Centers in Public Health” was reformatted as a case study report that was included in the book JPHMP’s 21 Public Health Case Studies on Policy and Administration. What are some of the factors that contributed to Nigeria’s rapid success in containing EBV within three months?

Dr. Musa: Having had some experience with the Emergency Operations Center that was set up to eradicate polio was one of the key success factors that helped minimize the number of Ebola virus casualties in Nigeria in 2014. The incident management system, led by my friend and co-author Dr. Faisal Shuaib, was up-scaled to respond to the highly lethal hemorrhagic fever. Despite similarities in early presentation with Lassa fever (named after the village where I attended elementary school), access to a laboratory that could diagnose Ebola proved to be of vital importance. Nigeria had also invested in human expertise through its teaching hospitals, Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training program, and Teaching hospitals. While these resources were vital, the leadership and effective management of communications with the press, and effective coordination with traditional and religious leaders were priceless. Incidentally, these skills were “perfected” from experience from the polio eradication campaign. Proper use of the right types of personal protective equipment was very important. Other factors that were essential in the containment of Ebola include effective use of technology for contact tracing and case management, use of electronic dashboards, field workers’ dedication and utilization of multiple modes by of transportation on land, air, and the waterways. While these resources were vital, the leadership and effective management of communications with the press, and effective coordination with traditional and religious leaders proved to be the key in convincing the general public to change some cultural practices. Some of these factors were informed by and “perfected” from experience in earlier polio eradication campaigns in Nigeria.

JPHMP Direct: In what ways did your combined research interests culminate in the writing of this article?

Dr. Musa: The article presented a great opportunity to collaborate with a close friend on a topic of extraordinary significance. We try not to ponder on “what if Ebola had not been quickly contained in Nigeria?” It was a project for which Project Management, Information Systems, Epidemiology, knowledge of Culture, and Trust all came to bear.

Click to view an infographic detailing Dr. Musa and Dr. Shuaib’s article findings, created by the UAB Collat School of Business.

JPHMP Direct: What are some of your current research projects?

Dr. Musa: Some ongoing projects include: Assessment of Health Information Systems (HIS) in Level 4 Hospitals in Kenya (to be followed with a study of level of HIS and impact on quality of case for certain chronic diseases); Evaluating SMS-based smartphone Application to improve Acute Flaccid Paralysis Surveillance; Assessment of Readiness for Launching Cloud Computing in Sub-Saharan Africa; etc.

JPHMP Direct: The Journal of Public Health Management and Practice will soon celebrate its 25th anniversary. What has the journal meant to your work as it relates to public health policy and practice?

Dr. Musa: My association with JPHMP is a major blessing in my career. In addition to being the top public health practice journal, JPHMP has assembled a team of first class editorial board and staff who keep the engines running. The editor-in-chief (Dr. Novick) is simply great. I believe he has the instinct for figuring out good topics and manuscripts when he sees them. I certainly enjoy working with everyone!

Dr. Lloyd Novick (Editor-in-Chief) and Dr. Philip Musa (Board Member) in Atlanta, GA, at APHA 2017

JPHMP Direct: How do you think the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice has impacted public health policy and practice?

Dr. Musa: The body of knowledge presented in empirical research published in journals inform public health policies and practice. JPHMP has a unique advantage in that regard. I believe having both hard copy and online presence is a plus. Another way that JPHMP shapes policies and practice is through its editorial board members because most of them are professors and policy makers. We are fortunate and excited to have Dr. Paul Erwin (JPHMP Editorial board member) as the new Dean for UAB School of Public Health! As a Trail Blazer, Dr. Erwin’s influence will surely shape public health policy and practice for decades to come.

JPHMP Direct: How do you see JPHMP evolving to meet emerging needs of scientists, policy makers, and practitioners over the next 25 years?

Dr. Musa: The ability and willingness to foresee and adapt to changing environment is important. JPHMP is proving its leadership role in that regard by being innovative and hiring people that have essential and unique skills in social media. JPHMP also has an awesome publishing company (Wolters Kluwer) as its partner. The meeting we had in Atlanta during the 2017 APHA conference in Atlanta was my first, and I was very impressed with how the journal is poised to continue to lead the way in the 21st century!! I am certainly humbled and excited to be a part of this dynamic team.

JPHMP Direct: Thanks for your time, Dr. Musa. It’s a pleasure working with you on the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice.  

For further reading, consider these related articles from the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice*:

*Articles may require a subscription to JPHMP or purchase.