Dr Megan Counahan

2018 College Recipient, College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences

Dr Megan Counahan is the Health Adviser for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, based in Cambodia. She was previously a health specialist at the Asian Development Bank’s Central and West Asia Department where she built the department’s health portfolio. She has 20 years of experience designing, implementing and overseeing health sector projects around the world, including in fragile and conflict-affected states.

Dr Counahan studied a Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at James Cook University as her platform for a career change from nursing officer into rural, remote, Indigenous and global public health manager. She further consolidated her experience through a Doctor of Public Health, also at James Cook University, which she linked to the work of the World Health Organisation in Timor-Leste and the JCU–World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Lymphatic Filariasis. This work with the Collaborating Centre has helped maintain James Cook University’s reputation as a world-leading centre in neglected tropical diseases.

Dr Counahan uses her training and research to continue to inform her global health career, increasingly expanding her scope from infectious diseases and surveillance, to senior project and program manager to health financing and advising. She also demonstrates a committed approach to continuing professional development by regularly undertaking short courses to support her work.

One of Dr Counahan’s career highlights is as team leader for the program responsible for eliminating leprosy in Timor-Leste, and she played a role in strengthening the health system for the detection and control of infectious diseases in the same country. She has been responsible for major training efforts in global health security in the Asia Pacific region and has proven her ability to translate complex technical guidelines and evidence into clear implementable programs that can be understood by a broad range of stakeholders.

Through her career impact and commitment to continual professional development, Dr Counahan is considered to be an inspirational role model to those who want to be good global citizens and global public health experts. Her achievements have made a difference in the lives of people living in the Tropics in the Asia-Pacific region.

She is currently an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow with James Cook University’s College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences.

Dr Megan Counahan graduated from James Cook University with a Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 1999 and a Doctor of Public Health in 2007.