Leading Through COVID-19

Throughout COVID-19, Global Health Corps (GHC) has amplified the impact of our network of 1,000+ leaders’ as they respond to the pandemic and protect health equity around the world. GHC leaders bring a wide range of perspectives, born from their nontraditional backgrounds and lived experiences with inequity, to the unprecedented challenges we face. 

COVID-19 illustrated that all the medical and technology advances in the world aren’t enough to realize health as a human right for all, especially during a crisis.

Throughout the pandemic, leadership was revealed as the make-or-break lever for change that we at Global Health Corps have long believed it to be. Effective, connected, diverse leaders are a powerful antidote to weak health systems. 

Who leaders are and how they operate can be a matter of life and death for the communities they serve, especially during crises. But great leaders aren’t born — they have to be intentionally recruited, trained, and nurtured early and often throughout their careers. In global health, these kinds of opportunities are few and far between. 

GHC fellows work on the front lines of COVID-19 response, gaining experiential learning and filling critical gaps within health organizations in Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia:


  • 2019-2020 Uganda fellows Abiola Abu-Bakr & Moureen Asimire developed the National Preparedness and Action plan for COVID-19 for Mental Health Psychosocial Support with the Ministry of Health (MOH). They were also core members of the health promotion team managing all MOH communication with the public about the pandemic.
  • At the National Health Research Authority in Zambia, 2019-2020 fellow Nsanzya Maambo developed the National Research Plan on COVID-19, facilitating research and clinical trials for vaccines. 
  • 2019-2020 fellow Emmanuel Mwanza, eHealth Officer at the Malawi Ministry of Health, spearheaded efforts to track deployment of Malawi’s systems and integrate them into the global database, Digital Atlas.
  • At the Rwandan Ministry of Health, 2019-2020 fellow Emma Twagirumukiza coordinated the surveillance and response team’s real-time linkage with 40,000 community health workers reporting on COVID-19 using their mobile phones.
  • 2020-2021 fellow Mirriam Chisha Chimba spearheaded the integration of COVID-19 messaging into PATH’s social behavioral change communication (SBCC) materials on malaria elimination in Zambia. 
  • At Lifenet International, 2020-2021 fellow Steven Twinomugisha co-led the development and rollout of a WhatApp-based platform to provide partner health facilities with real-time COVID-19 and other health information. 
  • 2020-2021 fellow Gisele Ingenere, a Finance Program Coordinator at the Ministry of Health — Rwanda, is managing a savings scheme for nurses, doctors, lab technicians, and paramedics to ensure healthcare worker retention across the country during the pandemic.
  • Placed at Partners In Health Malawi, 2020-2021 fellow Revelation Nyirongo is training Community Health Workers on the Public Health Institute of Malawi’s COVID-19 tools, including case tracking and contact tracing in Neno and surrounding districts.

GHC alumni are rising leaders who leverage the training and network GHC provides to make an outsized impact. We’ve supported them to respond to the pandemic around the world, including:


Through GHC’s COVID-19 Collective Action Coalitions, we provided funding and programming support alumni to implement community-based COVID-19 responses in eight countries, including: 


  • Supporting domestic violence survivors to access health services in Uganda 
  • Creating a health resource guide for individuals living in poverty in urban centers in the U.S. 
  • Advocating for stronger mental health policies and support in Rwanda 
  • Distributing PPE to clinics and schools in Zambia
  • Training community members to create and sell masks and hand soap in Malawi

Through GHC’s programs, we’ve offered our leaders ongoing coaching, mentorship, access to our tight-knit network and seed funding, and skills training, including:

  • Management Trainings with McKinsey Academy, Africa Management Institute, and The BoardRoom Africa
  • Board Development Trainings with the Isroff Family Foundation
  • Advisor Program and Career Coaching
  • Social Enterprise Seed funding and Peer-group Coaching with D-Prize, Expert Impact, World Connect, and Africa Management Institute
  • Alumni Chapters and Community Mentorship Program 
  • Leadership Learning Circles
  • Networking Events
  • GHC Community Portal
  • Advocacy Training with Advocacy Accelerator
  • Writing Workshops with The Op-Ed Project
  • Public Speaking and Editorial Support

We have adapted during this time of upheaval and implemented new policies and protocol to keep our staff, fellows, and alumni safe and support continued learning, including:


  • Pausing our 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 international fellowship roles and expanding our national fellowship roles to meet the changing needs of our partner organizations.
  • Pivoting to virtual programming for fellows, alumni, and our broader community, including a new Shift Happens Speaker Series and more robust programming at the intersection of racial justice and health equity.
  • Intentionally upholding our commitment to our values and staying connected to each other and our mission even as staff have been working remotely throughout the pandemic. 
  • Publishing our leaders’ reflections and insights on COVID-19 on AMPLIFY.

Armed with an equity lens and a deep understanding of systems, they are ensuring marginalized populations with a wide range of health needs don’t fall through the cracks. And they’re sharing hard-won lessons and insights across borders and boundaries of all kinds, from East and Southern Africa to the U.S. and beyond.

GHC’s 2021-2022 fellow cohort is launching in July. Make a gift to support them in responding to COVID-19 and strengthening health systems in their communities today