Alex Ezeh is now the leader of the influential Africa Population Health Research Centre (APHRC), but he’s had a long journey to get this far in his medicinal career. Before building up the APHRC to what it is today, he was a sociology student at Imo State University in southeastern Nigeria. There, he studied fertility patterns and tried to understand the factors that influence the childbearing dilemmas that Africans face all over the continent. He later transferred to the University of Ibadan, where he obtained a Master’s degree in sociology with a focus on demography. He would later earn a Master’s degree in demography from that university, as well as a PhD in demography of the University of Pennsylvania in the United States.
He later got a job with Macro International (today ICF International), a business specializing in surveying demographics and health indicators in low-income countries. There, he published scientific papers focusing on African demographics, while also doing research on American teenagers and their struggles with substance abuse and mental health.
Today, he heads an organization that publishes research papers in the triple digits annually, all focusing on the demographics of society. He was first invited to the APHRC in 1998, and he moved to Nairobi, Kenya in that very year, despite the tense situation with terrorism at the time. While he had to move to a difficult environment, and his wife had to give up her nursing job in the U.S., Ezeh is proud of his decision: “We’ve been able to demonstrate that Africans can do some of the best research in the world and not only can they do it, they can teach others to do it.” APHRC is doing that today by providing support to doctorate training.
APHRC’s rise was rapid in the early 2000s, and since 2006, the centre has grown by at least 30% every year. That growth has been aided by financial aid from foreign powerhouses such as Deloitte, Ernst & Young and PriceWaterhouseCooper. Ezeh continues to lead the centre to progress African research and help the field to keep up with the rest of the world.