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Josh Ruxin
Josh Ruxin is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Public Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, Founder and Executive Director of Health Builders (, and author of A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda. He has extensive experience operating at the intersection of public health, business and international development.

In 1996, Josh joined the Monitor Group and in 2000, he co-founded and served as vice president of OTF Group, a strategy consulting firm. During his years there and at Monitor, he led projects in a several developing countries and was an advisor to government and private sector leaders on business strategy and economic development.

In 2002, Josh along with Professor Jeffrey Sachs and Rob Glaser founded Health Builders (formerly the Access Project) to support over a dozen countries in acquiring and effectively managing financing by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, and to transparently and sustainably improve their public health systems. Under his leadership, Health Builders secured $1.3 billion for countries working on national strategies and programs. In 2003, Josh led Health Builders to intensify its interventions in a few select countries, and to eventually focus specifically on improving the management of rural health centers in Rwanda. He also founded and directed the Neglected Tropical Disease Control Project, as well as the Millennium Villages Project in Rwanda.

In 2008, Josh and his wife, Alissa, built and opened Heaven Restaurant and Inn, one of Rwanda’s leading venues for hospitality training.

Josh holds a Bachelor of Arts in the History of Science and Medicine from Yale University, where he was a Truman Scholar. He received a Master of Public Health from Columbia University and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in History from the University of London as a Marshall Scholar. He is a frequent contributor to national publications and has been featured in numerous outlets, including the Washington Post, Forbes, Time, Seed magazine, CNN and CNN International’s Inside Africa. He serves on the Board of Generation Rwanda and FilmAid International.

Josh is based in Kigali, Rwanda, where he lives with his wife and three children.

Entries by Josh Ruxin

A Passover Seder in Rwanda

(0) Comments | Posted April 18, 2014 | 11:44 AM

Where on the African continent can you find a Seder this week? Try Rwanda. As in years past, we're looking at a standing room only list for ours (and we're not the only ones!). Nearly a decade ago, my wife and I moved to Rwanda to start a family and...

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20 Years Later, Rwanda Is Succeeding

(0) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 3:40 PM

The U.S. missed its chance, 20 years ago last month, to stop the Rwandan genocide before a million people were killed. But there will likely never be a second such event in Rwanda, and the reason for that has everything to do with the resolve of the Rwandan government and...

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Spring Cleaning in Rwanda

(1) Comments | Posted March 30, 2010 | 3:21 PM

A group of soldiers huddled around an unexploded hand grenade in the road near my home in Kigali, Rwanda. Given the grenade attacks of the last few weeks, I panicked. Had there been an attack in the neighborhood? No, there hadn't; one of my neighbors had placed the grenade in...

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Tourism in the Developing World - Beneficial or Exploitative?

(4) Comments | Posted March 16, 2010 | 11:15 AM

Every few months, it seems, there is a flurry of passionate and well-intentioned opinions that question the viability of tourism centered on poor villages, arguing that the benefits to be gained are outweighed by the potential for exploitation of poor people. Some of the rhetoric in this ongoing debate has...

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Agro-Imperialism: For the Rich or for the Poor?

(1) Comments | Posted February 22, 2010 | 12:46 PM

Imagine: you live in a rich country in which the government and the people derive significant income from the oil that sits beneath your homeland's surface. Your nation's land is mostly arid desert, and no amount of irrigation programs or reclamation schemes will allow you to grow enough to feed...

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Lighting the Way to Better Medical Services

(0) Comments | Posted February 16, 2010 | 1:06 PM

The difference between life and death may sometimes come down to good lighting. It may seem strange to say so, but imagine this situation.

You become suddenly ill, with a pain in your lower abdomen. You get rushed to a hospital, and within a short time, you are medicated for...

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GE Brings Great Things to Rwanda

(0) Comments | Posted January 26, 2010 | 12:12 PM

What comes to mind when you think of senior US corporate officials taking a trip to Africa? Exploitation? A sinister grab for assets or natural resources? Cool behind-the-scenes underhanded deal-making? That's what many would expect, but here in Rwanda last week there was real celebration when members of General Electric's...

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Wiping out Dengue Fever in Haiti -- And Everywhere Else

(3) Comments | Posted January 20, 2010 | 1:54 PM

When most people think of a deadly mosquito-transmitted disease, they usually think of malaria. Those who have traveled far and wide, however, know that dengue fever is brutal and, in many Asian and Latin American countries, is one of the leading causes of hospitalization and death in children.

In recent...

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Transparency Recognized

(0) Comments | Posted January 14, 2010 | 2:50 PM

Getting help into the hands of the people who need it can be extraordinarily difficult when that effort is compromised by the corruption that's too often a feature of governments in the developing world. Corruption can choke off food, medicine, and funding that's supposed to be destined for people who...

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Taking an Oath to Improve Aid

(2) Comments | Posted January 7, 2010 | 3:16 PM

There's a fundamental irony in U.S. development policy: we give too little, and what we give, we give inefficiently. Currently, the magnitude of U.S. taxpayer dollars is not translating into corresponding levels of goodwill around the world. While President Obama plans to invest heavily in diplomacy and development to improve...

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Fashion, Rwanda and the Power of Social Entrepreneurship

(0) Comments | Posted December 18, 2009 | 2:12 PM

When you think about fashion, do you think about Africa? You should. Not only has the New York Times recognized that much more money gets spent in Africa on luxury goods than most people think, but focusing on fashion has become one more way for Africans to create prosperity.

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Mass Drug Administration; Not a Cure, But a Necessary Treatment

(0) Comments | Posted December 8, 2009 | 3:34 PM

Right now, American public school children are getting their H1N1 vaccines in nurse's offices all across the United States. And while swine flu is a concern here in Rwanda where I live, the impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) on the population's well-being and productivity is much greater and cannot...

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Impacting AIDS this World AIDS Day

(1) Comments | Posted November 27, 2009 | 2:56 PM

World AIDS Day has become a time to reflect on the daunting challenges we face in the battle against this tenacious killer. Although huge strides have been made over the past two decades, we are, in many respects, continuing to lose ground as new infections outpace our ability...

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Racing to Save the Eyesight of 84 Million People

(0) Comments | Posted November 19, 2009 | 12:09 PM

Last year, a horrible disease impaired and robbed 8 million people of their vision. Right now, 84 million people are infected with this disease. The good news is that treating it is relatively easy, and curing it requires the commitment of a relatively modest amount of resources. This disease is...

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Half the Sky

(0) Comments | Posted November 9, 2009 | 10:08 AM

Last month, Half the Sky hit bookstores all across the country. Written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the first married couple to jointly win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism, Half the Sky is an extraordinarily exciting book. It examines the economic potential that could be realized by relieving oppression...

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Pneumonia: A Bigger Killer than Swine Flu

(1) Comments | Posted November 2, 2009 | 1:39 PM

There's a lot of debate among parents in the U.S. about the H1N1 vaccine. Some of the parents of small children I've spoken to over the last week are seriously debating whether to get it. Many are deciding not to give their child yet another vaccine.

However, what if H1N1...

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Forgiveness: Human or Divine?

(2) Comments | Posted October 28, 2009 | 4:52 PM

Earlier this month the film As We Forgive, a documentary about Rwanda, was released on DVD (check out the trailer here). It does not chronicle the 1994 genocide, but what has come after: Rwanda's struggle to rebuild itself.

Rwanda's President, Paul Kagame, is following a path of reconciliation, not...

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Famine and Plenty, Both in Times of Drought

(0) Comments | Posted October 16, 2009 | 2:03 PM

Rwanda: The first rains of the season are falling in this part of Africa. The rain is part of a weather cycle that can make or break life in this region of the world, depending on several factors. Prominent among these is health - not just people's health, but also...

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Health Centers: One of the Keys to Eradicating Poverty

(0) Comments | Posted September 8, 2009 | 4:32 PM

While Garth Brooks may be best known for his country music, he is also a devoted philanthropist. Through the joint efforts of his Teammates For Kids Foundation and Rwanda Works, the critical message that poverty and health are directly related is about to be demonstrated in a very tangible way....

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Public-Private Partnerships: Creating Infrastructure and the Expertise to Run It

(1) Comments | Posted August 26, 2009 | 2:23 PM

I have written and talked a great deal about the importance of health care in raising the standard of living among sub-Saharan Africans. There's a very good reason for this. While we must create development opportunities and prosperity-building programs for Africans, unless we collaborate with governments to help improve the...

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