By Chelsea Montes De Oca
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow
You may notice we look a bit different…
As you know, PATH recently rebranded. We’ve updated the MACEPA Malaria Minute to reflect our new look. We’ve also restructured the “In the News” section to include one weekly read. If you read just one piece of (malaria) news this week, it should be what’s in this section. Trust us. We hope you enjoy the new look and feel of the Malaria Minute. Let us know!
Meet the new Global Health Corps fellows!
Please extend a warm welcome to our new Global Health Corps fellows at PATH MACEPA—Chuma Nyambe Maluma and Chelsea Montes de Oca! Chuma and Chelsea will spend the next year working on new and ongoing projects to help further strengthen MACEPA programming in Zambia. Chuma will act as a malaria program officer, working on surveillance for MACEPA. Chelsea will help with all things communications as an advocacy and communications officer (such as this Malaria Minute!). Want to learn more about them and what they’re hoping to accomplish this year? Well, here you go:
What were you doing before you joined the fellowship?
Chuma: Prior to joining GHC, I worked as a research assistant for Millennium Challenge Account Zambia under a project called Lusaka Water Supply—Sanitation and Drainage. I also worked as a district HIV/AIDS coordination adviser in a rural district under the National AIDS Council. Before that, I graduated with my bachelor of arts in social work from the University of Zambia.
Chelsea: Before making my way to Zambia, I worked as a communications specialist at a community health center in Denver, Colorado. During my two years there, I helped elevate the stories of our patients and advocated for better policies surrounding access to healthcare in the US. Prior to that, I received my master’s degree in international and intercultural communication from the University of Denver.
What are you most excited about in your new position?
Chuma: Before this position, the only thing I knew about public health was HIV/AIDS. I’m most excited to expand my knowledge in the field of public health and learn more about the issue of malaria.
Chelsea: Like Chuma, I wasn’t too familiar with malaria before joining the MACEPA team. I’m eager to dive into the world of malaria and help bring awareness to this issue while expanding my skills in communication, graphic design, and photography. I’m also looking forward to working in different provinces around Zambia and can’t wait to see more of the country!
What do you consider to be your top strengths and how will they help you this year?
Chuma: Patience, adaptability, loyalty—I’m learning a lot of new things in my role and I think patience helps me to not feel pressured to learn it all in one day. Adaptability helps me be at peace with the current situation and find innovative ways to work with what’s there. I think that’s important in a position like this because there are many unknowns in the work that we do. Loyalty at the end of the day means I’m always going to show up. It doesn’t matter how I’m feeling or how the day is going, I’m going to make sure I get my work done.
Chelsea: Adaptability, passion, creativity—being adaptable is critical to the work I do as the environment and demands of any project can change quickly. Adaptability helps me think on my feet and still get the work done. Being creative tends to go hand in hand with communications and it’s important for the type of work I do. I also think creativity allows me to see problems from different perspectives and be a resourceful problem solver. Finally, passion for people and the work I do keeps me coming back even when things are difficult.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Chuma: People make fun of me but I love to knit and crochet. Mothers love me because I will knit things for their children. However, even if I didn’t knit, mothers would still love me because I’m constantly shopping for my family and friends’ children. I always find myself wandering into baby shops around town. I rarely spend money on myself but I’ll happily spend money on cute items for kids!
Chelsea: I always thought I hated exercising but two years ago I was dragged to a kickboxing class and fell in love with it. For the last two years I’ve enjoyed improving my kickboxing skills in my spare time. It’s definitely good that I found an exercise I love because my weight often suffers from my other personal passion: food. I will generally watch any cooking or baking show on television. I love watching people create interesting dishes and then trying (and often failing) to recreate them in my kitchen.
House of Chiefs’ health indaba
Convened by the Minister of Health, a House of Chiefs’ health indaba took place in Lusaka, Zambia, at the beginning of August. An indaba is a gathering of stakeholders who come together to discuss important issues related to their communities. These meetings equip influencers like traditional leaders with up-to-date information to bring back to their communities. The goal is healthier communities across Zambia. Over 240 chiefs from across Zambia converged to learn more about the state of health in their country.
The two-day conference addressed many health issues including TB, HIV, mental health, and malaria. Mutinta Mudenda, deputy director of the National Malaria Elimination Centre, presented on malaria and the national strategy to eliminate malaria by 2021. PATH attendee Chilumba Sikombe said many of the chiefs asked meaningful questions about the state of malaria, including how to grapple with cross-border transmission from Zambia’s eight neighbors.
Photos from the field
It may be low-transmission season for malaria in Zambia but the MACEPA team and community health workers (CHWs) remain hard at work ensuring access to care. Check out some pictures below.*
The spread of quality information in the era of “fake news”
“Our work is based on science and trust, on our ability to communicate reliable information—and on having people believe that information is real,” says Susan Krenn. In this article from Global Health Now, Krenn discusses the implications of the spread of misinformation across the globe and how this impacts the delivery of healthcare. She also offers a few tips on how to work within on this new reality. Read more here and here.
Ok, because you’ve made it this far, you deserve a bonus read this week. Here you go:
Saving lives with radio
In Burkina Faso, a baby girl, Marieta, became very ill. Her father didn’t know what to do. “That’s when I heard a message on the radio explaining how to recognize the signs and symptoms of malaria,” he recalled.
“If I hadn’t heard that radio message she wouldn’t be alive today.”
Read about the power of community radio here.