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From SoFu to Cameroon

Farrah Harrison

Farrah Harrison and her family are adjusting to life in Cameroon, Africa. No stranger to international travel, Harrison is comfortable making a new country feel like home. She serves as Deputy Country Director with the Centers for Disease Control and has 17 years of service to her credit.

When Harrison served in Liberia, the country was dealing with the Ebola pandemic. Harrison recalls a patient who contracted Ebola who followed the protocol designed by the CDC and made a full recovery, whereas a member of the patient’s family did not share her diagnosis out of fear of the stigma of the disease, and with no treatment, succumbed to Ebola.

In Cameroon, Harrison leads a team of unsung heroes. Oftentimes when someone visualizes the CDC, they imagine a scientist or a doctor, however, there are groups that work behind the scenes to bring the work done by the CDC to fruition.  

Harrison’s current project is part of the Epidemic control as defined by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), currently in the 25th year of operation. PEPFAR is “the point at which the total number of new HIV infections falls below the total number of deaths from all causes among HIV-infected individuals, with both new infections and deaths among people living with HIV low and declining.”

Harrison is responsible for ensuring funding of nearly $60 million is allocated with CDC partners who have been aligned to manage the PEPFAR’s programmatic goals and staff the sites with doctors, support staff and technical support staff. The sites are open so that local citizens can receive testing, secure treatment for the prescribed protocol and ensure patient retention.

Although Harrison is in Cameroon for work, she does enjoy her down time. There is an embassy school for non-African students where her young scholar attends. The classes are smaller, allowing for more one to one teacher time. The ability to work remotely gives her spouse an opportunity to enjoy and learn about Cameroon as well.

While German was the official language until the end of World War I, today, Cameroon natives speak English and French. Harrison was born to Haitian parents and speaks some French, so this gives her a chance to perfect her skillset and build rapport with the locals.