Alumni Profile: Antonio Hegar

Antonio Hegar (MSc Public Health – Environment & Health, 2013) works as an Epidemiologist for the Ministry of Health and Wellness in Belize. Here, he shares his stand-out memory from LSHTM, the job roles he has taken since graduating and what COVID-19 has taught us.
Antonio Hegar and colleague speaking at an event

I was drawn to do my MPH at LSHTM partly due to its broad roster of world experts among its various faculties, and partly for its location in cosmopolitan London. My time at the London School laid a solid foundation for me with respect to critical thinking, investigative skills, and a passion for research that I carry with me to this day.

“I am guilty of falling for what was a fad at the time, so one of my stand-out memories of the School is helping a fellow student make a “Harlem Shake” video for a class she was taking on outbreak investigation and control. Needless to say, I hope the video remains archived indefinitely.

Perhaps the single greatest benefit of being an alumnus of the school is the amazing network one establishes with colleagues along the way. These not only often blossom into friendships but means that we can lean on each other from our various vantage points in government, academia, and industry to gain invaluable knowledge on research and policy. I actually work with two fellow alumni at my current job, and we often coordinate activities within and across our various departments.

“Since graduating, I briefly served as a consultant for the WHO country office. Then I went on to work on health systems quality assurance before transitioning to my current role as Epidemiologist at our Ministry of Health headquarters, where I have worked on numerous original projects as well as routine surveillance. It gives me immense pride to know that I have contributed to the body of knowledge that will inform policy not only nationally but ideally worldwide by setting an example of how low-resource settings can nonetheless conduct impactful research. I want to continue working on NCDs in LMICs, as well as neglected tropical diseases, but from a data science perspective with the goal of identifying evolving trends and opportunities.

COVID-19 truly pulled the mask off public health by baring all our systemic vulnerabilities and weaknesses. The plus side to this is that we now know what works in terms of pandemic preparedness and response, what does not, and which communities are most in need of assistance in times of crisis. We’re all in the same storm, but not all in the same boat. If it’s within your ability to help someone on their journey, do so.

“My advice for current students is to form and expand your network while at LSHTM and continue to do so afterwards, by participating in local and online alumni activities and forums. Not only will you be enriched by the wealth of knowledge that your fellow alumni can share from their respective fields, but you’ll have lots of fun!”

Want to share your story? Email