mobile malaria project

Day 5. Windhoek

published on
Wednesday 27 March 2019 | Distance travelled: 0km

Last night was much warmer than Walvis Bay, and we experienced the annoying whine of a mosquito for the first time. God it was annoying, this schreeching round our ears during the early hours which seemed never ending, but I eventually slept and the warmth was welcome given the relative lack of heat we'd experienced thusfar in Walvis Bay.

Today we visited Prof Davis Mumbengewi at the University of Namibia. Known as Prof, he's an expert in malaria and arguably one of the country's top malaria geneticists. We visited his lab and spoke with him and his postdocs, Munya and Tanga, and his colleage Ronny (see pic above). It was great to see some inspirational people, working in labs in Africa that are clever and committed, working on very similar things to us, just without the funding and opportunity that we have to work with the very best technology.

We spoke about our project and their work with microsatellites working with people at UCSF. Munya has just finished his PhD working on understanding importation and connectivity in the Kavango and Zambezi regions in the north of Namibia. I'm going to write up our dicussions in more detail elsewhere, but it was one of those humbling, positive experiences that is really motivating and totally underlines my motivations for coming in country and learning about people's work.

We also visited Elimination8, a regional initiative that is piling pressure onto the health ministries of eight southern African countries so that they keep malaria on the agenda. Again, I'll write about this in more detail elsewhere, but I was impressed by their professionality and sense of purpose. They spoke eloquently about the need for cross border collaboration: parasites know no borders, so if we are to aim to eliminate malaria, then broad coalitions are needed. One thing that stuck with me was a comment that Polela, the head of advocacy made. She said that one of ther successes has been to get ministers to think about funding as being for the region, not the country. By persuading ministers that funding a different country can indirectly help their own country, she was able to show them that it's not all about trying to get as much research money diverted to their own coffers. How progressive.