mobile malaria project

Day 17: Lusaka

published on
Monday 08 April 2019 | Distance travelled: 0km (2205 km total)

Today we visited the National Malaria Elimination Centre in Lusaka for the first time. As we drove into the small complex, I was immediately struck by how small it was. There are three or four squat buildings housing laboratories and offices, but there are probably no more than 50 people working here. I don't quite know why I was expecting a large new build, but the place felt typically African.

We were there to meet with Dr Dan Bridges, a program manager at PATH, and American NGO. Dan is British, but has lived all over the world and he now runs the main parasitology lab in the complex. Although an NGO, PATH sits within the NMEC (part of the Ministry of Health) and they work hand in hand on various initiatives. Dan gave us a tour of the complex and we met his lab team of Mulanga. Rachel, Brenda abnd Tricia.

We spoke with Dan about our plans for the next few days. I'd spoken with him over skype several times in the runup to our departure as we'd targetted Zambia as one of the main scientific stints of the journey. I'd been interested to visit PATH specifically because of their close relationship with NMEC and with the operational side of malaria research. As we spoke with Dan, it was clear that whilst he has some appetite for academic research, he's really motivated by trying to use genetics to inform policy.

Jason got busy with getting our lab set up and preparing for the workshop we've been planning for later on in the week. Other than a brief demo of the kit in Windhoek, our equipment had been holed up in the back of the car for the last couple of weeks, and had been bounced around in the back on our way up to the north. It all looked to be in one piece and the fridge/freezer, despite some initial teething problems seemed now to be running overnight without turning itself off.

We spent the afternoon catching up with admin and meeting people around the facility. Jason set off an initial few reactions with the aim of getting some preliminary data for the workshop.

Although it was my birthday, we didn't do anything special tonight. I felt a bit awkward telling people that it was my birthday, so although I'd mentioned it a couple of weeks ago, I'm not sure that anyone actually realised. Better not to have too much fuss anyway.