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Feb 05
An Interview with HST TREATS fellow: Jacob Busang

Health Systems Trust, together with the TREATS consortium, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), offered a Masters Fellowship to a promising young statistician who is now pursuing a Masters degree in medical statistics at the LSHTM. At the end of 2020 he will return to South Africa for a one-year work attachment to the South African TREATS study site with the research programme of the Tropical Epidemiology Group (TEG) at LSHTM. 

Read more about the TEG Fellowship here​

Meet Jacob Busang – South African TREATS TEG Fellow 2019.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself? What program are you in at the LSHTM?

My name is Jacob Busang and I was born and bred in Shakunyaneng Village, in the North West Province, South Africa. I completed high school in 2014 at Thomas Makgatho High School (now called Mmamogwai Secondary School). I completed a Bachelor of Science (BSc) Mathematical Sciences at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU), majoring in Mathematics and Statistics, in 2017. Followed by a BSc Honours in Statistics at SMU in 2018. All these degrees were conferred with distinction pass (cum laude).

On the 1st of April 2019 I started my internship with the National Research Foundation (NRF) and was placed as a Biostatistician at the Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), a division of WITS Health Consortium.

I am Currently doing a Masters in Medical Statistics at the LSHTM. It's a one-year full-time taught masters which commenced in September 2019.

2. When did you realise that you wanted to pursue a career in statistics or research?

At first my interest was in Actuarial Science, however, I pursued a BSc with the hope of eventually moving into Actuarial Science. Along the journey of my BSc I just fell in love with statistics and decided to pursue a career in statistics. ​​​​

3. Which aspect of the health sector gets you most excited?

I'm most interested in applying my statistical skills and knowledge in public health with a focus on TB and HIV/AIDS given the high burden of HIV and TB in South Africa.  ​

4. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

By then I would hope to have completed a PhD and be Dr Busang and hopefully one of the leading statisticians in South Africa. I hope to be part of one of the leading research institutions doing important research that brings about positive impact and change to our lives and the health sector overall.​

5. What is the best piece of advice you've received?

Explore the world and collaborate. Basically, this means that "no man is an island. No one is self-sufficient; everyone relies on others".​

6. Who inspires you? Who are some of your role models?

I've been inspired by many people I've met in my life, the likes of Dr Mathews Katjene, Prof Solly Seeletse, Dr Neil Martinson, my friend Keatlegile Mabena (author of Breaking the Chains), the list is just too long. Last but not least is Prof Kennedy Otwombe (PHRU), who is the one who encouraged me to apply for the TREATS TEG Fellowship. 

7. What advice would you give to students looking to pursue either studies or a career in statistics?

Statistics is a growing field and statisticians are in demand, especially in Africa. But one must not find oneself in a career simply because it is in "demand". A person pursuing studies or a career in statistics must demonstrate a love and interest for it, possess problem-solving skills and understand data and numbers. One will need analytical skills and the ability to apply critical thinking. ​​


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