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Elizabete Nunes: Working to Eradicate Tuberculosis in Mozambique

August 2015
Elizabete Nunes, MD, PhD

Elizabete Nunes, MD,

Elizabete Nunes, MD, PhD, first became interested in medicine as a young girl while caring for babies in Mozambique. “I liked to treat them and see what would happen,” Dr. Nunes says. As she got older, Dr. Nunes became concerned for her country and the high burden rate of tuberculosis and HIV. “We are a very poor country,” she says.

This led her to attend medical school and eventually specialize in pulmonology. After graduating in 1991, Dr. Nunes was one of only two pulmonologists in Mozambique, which had a population of 24 million at the time.

“With so much respiratory disease, it wasn’t enough,” Dr. Nunes says. “So with dedication and focus, I earned a PhD in TB and HIV from the Universidade de Campinas in Brazil.”

Today, Dr. Nunes serves as a professor of pulmonology in Mozambique and mentors four residents. In her country, there are eight pulmonologists.

“Dr. Nunes has demonstrated tremendous resolve, passion, and success throughout her career as the head of pulmonary medicine for Mozambique,” says Kevan Akrami, MD, an ATS member and a physician at the National Institutes of Health. “Her mentorship of upcoming medical students and residents, as well as collaborative spirit with local and international partners, has shown her to be a leading clinician in Mozambique, helping to usher in a new generation of pulmonologists to build on the research and educational foundation that she has almost single-handedly established.”

And yet, Dr. Nunes believes there is still more work to be done. “My passion is to control tuberculosis in my country,” she says. Dr. Nunes hopes that TB will be eradicated by 2025.

As an ATS member, Dr. Nunes “has been instrumental in the launch of the ATS Global Scholar Program, serving as the local champion for 35 participants in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, for our initial lectures,” says ATS President Atul Malhotra, MD.

ATS member Philip Ledere, MD, an infectious diseases fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, adds: “Working with Dr. Nunes has been inspiring. She has boundless energy and has been working hard to make the hospital safer for Mozambican health care workers and patients by reducing TB transmission.”

Last Reviewed: September 2017