Meg

Meg O'Brien, PhD, Director

Dr. Meg O’Brien leads our in-country work and develops the program’s strategic plan and oversees fundraising efforts.

An epidemiologist who has worked in health facilities in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, Dr. O’Brien works closely with ministries of health and non-governmental organizations in low- and middle-income countries to develop technical solutions to the crisis of untreated pain. Dr. O’Brien has worked in 25 countries and focuses on ensuring that our programs are locally appropriate and meet the unique needs of the country they are in. Her training and experience in mathematical modeling and statistics provides the foundation for our unique focus on quantitative solutions.

Dr. O’Brien came to Treat the Pain with over ten years of experience working in HIV treatment scale-up in developing countries. She was the Research Director of the Consortium for Strategic HIV Operations Research at the Clinton Health Access Initiative and worked for three years in HIV treatment clinics in Tanzania for the Harvard School of Public Health. Earlier in her career, she worked in a public HIV clinic in New Orleans, LA and in biostatistical consulting.

Dr. O’Brien completed a Ph.D. in infectious disease epidemiology from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a postdoctoral degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. She also holds a master’s degree in International Health from the George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services and a bachelor’s degree in Biology and certificate in African Studies from Georgetown University. Contact Dr. O'Brien

Zelalem Gizachew, Technical Consultant

Treat the Pain’s Technical Consultant in Ethiopia, Mr. Zelalem Gizachew, provides support to programs in Ethiopia to promote access to cancer treatment and pain medication. Prior to joining, Zelalem worked for various public and private health facilities as a laboratory technologist, mainly responsible for conducting laboratory test, quality assurance and instrument service and maintenance. Most recently, he worked for the Clinton Health Access Initiative with a focus on technological solutions to help facilitate access laboratory diagnosis in developing countries. During his time with CHAI, he served as a program manager for mobile health solutions. He managed the development and adoption of mobile based solutions to strengthen laboratory service delivery in more than 13 countries around the world.

Zelalem holds a Bachelor of Science in medical laboratory technology and computer science from Addis Ababa University and HiLCOE School of Science and Technology. Contact Mr. Gizachew

Chris

Christopher Igharo, PharmD, Analyst-Nigeria

Treat the Pain's Analyst in Nigeria, Dr. Christopher Igharo, provides technical support to the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria, with a focus on morphine availability.

Dr. Igharo joined our team with extensive experience in supply chain management, monitoring and evaluation, organization and management of health sector programs. He has previously worked in the pharmaceutical industry, for government, and as a consultant to various agencies.

Dr. Igharo received his doctorate of pharmacy from the University of Benin, Benin City and his bachelor's degree in pharmacy from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife. Contact Dr. Igharo

Esther Muinga

Esther Muinga, MD, Analyst-Kenya

Treat the Pain's Analyst in Kenya, Dr. Esther Muinga, provides technical support to our partners in Kenya, with a focus on morphine availability.

Dr. Muinga, a medical officer in the Ministry of Medical Services, serves as the full-time Coordinator for Access to Pain Relief and Palliative Care between the Ministry of Medical Services and Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA). In this role, she supports both the Ministry and KEHPCA to roll-out palliative care services in 11 high-level hospitals in Kenya, working to improve the availability of essential pain medicines, scale-up clinical training, update policies, and integrate palliative care into HIV and cancer service delivery with technical support from our headquarters team.

Dr. Muinga has previously worked in the Webuye District Hospital in western Kenya as a medical officer actively involved in palliative care. She graduated from the University of Nairobi with a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery. Contact Dr. Muinga

Laura Plattner

Laura Plattner, MBA, Program Manager

Treat the Pain's Program Manager, Ms. Laura Plattner, provides technical support to our programs in Swaziland and Kenya.

Laura comes to Treat the Pain with extensive experience in the nonprofit, international development, and public health sectors, and with a passion for improving health outcomes in developing countries. Prior to joining the team, Laura worked with a small nonprofit to improve access to patient assistance programs for uninsured people living with HIV in the US. Previously, she spent nearly three years with the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Swaziland working on a variety of projects including strengthening laboratory services, improving pediatric care, and expanding programs focused on HIV treatment support and health promotions and programs targeting adolescents and men.

Laura holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and Nonprofit Management from Boston University and a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Virginia. Contact Ms. Plattner

Amanda Schwartz

Amanda Schwartz, MS, Program Manager

Treat the Pain's Program Manager, Ms. Amanda Schwartz, provides technical support to our programs in Uganda and Ethiopia.

Amanda is a passionate global health professional with nine years of experience, including leading, managing and implementing high-priority complex projects in international settings. Amanda comes to the Treat the Pain from Partners In Health (PIH), a non-profit international health organization based in Boston, where she held several different positions. Most recently, she served as the Project Director for PIH’s Ebola Response in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Prior to this role, Amanda focused on cross-site project management at PIH, including coordinating PIH's partnership with the Lesotho Ministry of Health, managing PIH's five year strategic planning process and developing high-level partnerships across PIH's major sites in Haiti and Sub-saharan Africa. She holds a Master’s degree from Northeastern University in Law and Public Policy with a focus in global health policy and a Bachelor’s degree from Fordham University in International Political Economy and in African and African American Studies. Contact Ms. Schwartz

Justine

Justine Swindell, Program Coordinator

Treat the Pain’s Program Coordinator, Ms. Justine Swindell, provides leadership and direction for administrative operations from our Washington, D.C. office.

Justine joins our team with experience in the areas of program management, higher education administration, operations, and hospital compliance. Most recently she worked as a Fellowship Training and Administrative Coordinator for Columbia University Medical Center in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine. Justine was introduced to global health programming while volunteering as a Project Coordinator for the World Lung Foundation on a venture called the Eastern Africa Training Initiative. Through her involvement in the project she learned about the importance of improving access to specialized medicine in low-middle income countries and its impact on improving health outcomes. Justine has a Bachelor’s of Science in Management from Guilford College and is currently a candidate for a Master’s of Arts in Sociology with a concentration in Public Policy Analysis from The Catholic University of America. Her academic research interests include population studies, human rights policies and social inequalities. Contact Ms. Swindell

James

James Yakubu, BPharm, National Coordinator, Pain-Free Hospital Initiative -Nigeria

Mr. James Yakubu is the Nigeria National Coordinator for the Pain-Free Hospital Initiative, a one-year, health facility-wide quality improvement initiative. The Pain-Free Hospital Initiative is designed to integrate pain treatment into service delivery by providing education for patients and staff, raising motivation and awareness among hospital staff, measuring and documenting pain levels, and improving essential pain medicine supply.

Prior to joining Treat the Pain, James was a Principal Pharmacist with Food and Drug Services department of the Federal Ministry of Health, Lagos, Nigeria. In that position, he worked closely with Dr. Christopher Igharo, Treat the Pain consultant, to ensure improved access to morphine. Preceding his employment with the Federal Ministry of Health, James worked as the superintendent pharmacist in General Hospital Toro, Bauchi State, Nigeria. There he successfully established a revolving drug fund system that ensured sustainable drug supply.

James holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from University of Jos, Nigeria. He has also attended Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Management courses organized by John Snow Incorporated (JSI). Contact Mr. Yakubu