Nathan Chomilo

Dr. Nathan Chomilo recalls his father being approached during parties and festivals by people seeking health guidance.

Chomilo, the son of a Cameroonian immigrant and an American raised in Cameroon by missionaries, was in awe of the respect his pharmacist father was shown by other members of their community.

It made sense that other immigrants sought out the opinion, support, and expertise of one of their own who had knowledge and could be trusted. The pride he felt watching his father’s positive influence in the community inspired Chomilo to become a doctor. 

“Being a healer isn’t only what you do within the walls of your clinic, it is also what you are doing for your community,” said Chomilo.


Though he followed in his parents’ medical footsteps (his mother is a nurse), it was not until he began practicing medicine that Chomilo developed an interest in public health and advocacy. He realized that advocacy allowed him to have a greater impact on public health. Whether it was talking with a patient or speaking to large audiences in his community, Chomilo was able to empower people with information.

Few people have had as much impact on health equity than the doctor you’ve never heard of: Dr. Nate Chomilo,” said Karen Ernst, director of The Task Force’s Voices for Vaccines program, a parent-led advocacy effort that Chomilo advises as a health equity expert. “From dismantling the racism in Medicaid to making sure vaccines get to communities hardest hit in the pandemic to teaching medical students how to see through inherent racism in order to see their patients, Dr. Chomilo is well on the way to changing American health itself.”

His passion for health equity propelled him to become the Medicaid Medical Director for Minnesota, the Director of Vaccine Equity at the Minnesota Department of Health, and a general pediatrician and internal medicine hospitalist at Park Nicollet Hospital in Minneapolis.

Chomilo speaks to the African American and African immigrant communities at churches, on webinars, and on radio and television programs created by and for his community to spread truth and fight disinformation about vaccines. He has worked with partners to deliver information, set up testing and vaccination sites, engage with community members, and collect data in an effort to provide equal health care for all. 

Despite the challenges of the last two years, Chomilo shared the two driving questions that kept him motivated: “How can I better promote health equity and how can I better dismantle structural racism?”

Speaking on the role of public health and working in the sector, “either directly with public health agencies or bringing the public health lens to things like Medicaid and payment systems,” Chomilo said, “I think those are where I see the most opportunities to really have the systems change, that ends up really moving the needle when it comes to addressing health equity, dismantling structural racism and providing equal and equitable opportunity for all.”

As he reflected on the increased awareness of racial inequity during the pandemic, he’s eager to put words into action to see how that will play out for future generations.

“In 20 years, the hope is that we’re not talking about awareness but discussing things we’ve already done that have produced change for the better,” he said.

Photos courtesy of Nathan Chomilo.

Photos courtesy of Nathan Chomilo.

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