Roslyn Heights resident Saleena Subaiya first became aware of the world’s poverty when, along with here mother, she visited her ancestral country of India. Subaiya’s mother is also a physician and the trio allowed Subaiya to look at her suburban upbringing in a different perspective.
“I was inspired to want to give back,” Subaiya told The Roslyn News. And so, Subaiya, as noted in an earlier issue, is now on the front lines of public health. This fall, she will be performing her duties as part of the 2015 class of Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
More specifically, Subaiya will be traveling to both Kenya and Laos. She will spend one month in each nation. In Kenya, Subaiya will be working with government officials to help vaccinate up to 18 million children by text-messaging mothers in that country’s rural areas to let them know that such help is available.
In Laos, a southeastern Asian nation that borders Vietnam, Subaiya will also work with government officials to put systems in place that will detect any measles outbreaks in that country.
In Roslyn, Subaiya attended Herricks High School and later the University of Maryland, before receiving her doctorate at Columbia University. She spent a year working in both Kenya and London, England before returning stateside to live in Atlanta.
“When I went back to India, I met family and felt lucky to have the things I had in Long Island,” Subaiya added. The trip abroad made her grateful for her own life. As important, it made her motivated to take her work in its current direction.
Also known as CDC’s “disease detectives,” only 60 EIS officers are selected each year from a competitive national candidate pool of medical doctors, veterinarians, and PhD recipients. Many of them, CDC officials said, have clinical practices and teaching opportunities. They prefer, instead, to practice public health, knowing that their work will save thousands of lives, many of them young people.
Subaiya has completed her initial training, which also took place in Atlanta. She now goes on to serve as an EIS officer in CDC’s Global Health/Global Immunization Division.