The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it; J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
I arrived in London if only on a stayover on my way to Africa. I’ve started the journey and it’s been an interesting 2 weeks preparing for my first leg of auditing on behalf of the Malaria Consortium in Maputo, and Lichinga (Niassa Province) Mozambique.
The Malaria Consortium is located near the Old Street tube station in a building shared amongst a number of non-profits with the Malaria Consortium split between space on the ground floor (finance, IT, HR and Audit), and the third floor where Communication and the team involved in the research out in the field are located.
The people have been very kind and patient as I made my way through the systems, policies and trying to remember names. It is good to have key contacts in the main office that I can fall back on during my audits. I also spent some time discussing the mission of the Malaria Consortium with the Chief Executive Charles Nelson who has worked for over 30 years in health systems, international business leadership and strategy consulting with a particular focus on healthcare systems. I also found out that we have a shared history, he once worked with GSK – so it just drives home how small the world really is and the shared connections we all have.
As I was introduced to the team, I got to spend time with Tarekegn Abeku from whom I learned a lot about mosquitos and malaria. Whilst malaria is caused by the mosquito bite, not all mosquitos are the same and therefore some carry bird malaria only, others the malaria that affects the human population. Whilst it is the bite that transmits, it is the parasite that lives inside the gut of the mosquito that causes the disease as the parasite is passed onto humans. There are challenges to control such as the Vector distribution and biting habits changing by country and even within country, and right now is the Vector resistance to insecticides. Further, malaria epidemiology seems to be changing compared to earlier data. It is only through continued monitoring that will help better interpret changes and modify strategies for dealing with malaria. He spent additional time with me showing me the dried and cut mosquitos from Uganda (over 8000). The current research was to extract DNA at the molecular level from the mosquitos, reference where they were collected and look for the resistance gene and link it to the field data to understand habitat and the repellent resistance.
– for more information please see the link on the MC website where the study is discussed in more detail: http://www.malariaconsortium.org/resources/publications/576/monitoring-changes-in-malaria-epidemiology-and-effectiveness-of-interventions-in-ethiopia-and-uganda-beyond-garki-project-baseline-survey
One of the highlights from my time was with my manager who secured a spot for me to participate in the Charities Internal Audit Network (CIAN) group quarterly meeting where I got to sit in on presentations about Data Protection and heard case studies about Peer Review of audits in the charity space, network with others, and listen to the issues that they face in the non-profit sector. It was a good afternoon even if all the information made my head a little fuzzy.
When in London I was able to get up with some good friends, co-workers and continue to support diversity (even when not in the home office) when I walked in the London Pride parade supporting the Teachers First organisation with my manager’s good friends, and nearer the end of the parade came across the GSK camp of #proudsciencealliance (which was recently highlighted on the GSK intranet). Was good fun and made some new friends that I can call upon when I am back in town.
So as I near the end of my time here and board another plane for Africa I think of a quote of my favourite poets (John Keats)….nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced. I wish all my fellow PULSE volunteers for an experience of a lifetime!