A few weeks ago, I joined the rest of the team for the Mesoamerica Malaria Meeting in Antigua, Guatemala. It was a great chance to learn about the ongoing work in other countries, their pressing challenges, and the success stories from recent years. It was also exciting to hear the Global Malaria leadership team and some of our donors share their thoughts about the future.
But what stuck with me most were the informal conversations and the personal stories we exchanged outside the meeting rooms. Dozens of people from diverse backgrounds (doctors, biologists, engineers, consultants…), different nationalities (Canadian, Dutch, Mexican…), multiple languages (English, Spanish, Italian…), coming together for a few days, driven by their interest in improving health conditions in developing nations.
I am grateful for this wonderful and unexpected opportunity to cross paths with such an interesting and dedicated group of people. Whether it was someone originally from Colombia, living in Guatemala, or someone originally from Burkina Faso, living in Cambodia, they each had a delightful story to tell. And they were happy to learn more about me, the GSK volunteer from Panama.
Back home, I acknowledge how much I have learned since I first arrived at CHAI six weeks ago. I now look at the map of my country through different eyes, knowing we have indigenous communities in areas so remote, that you must first drive from the city for two hours, then take a ride in a dugout canoe through a narrow winding river for five hours, and finally hike up a mountain for two more hours to get there.
Imagine the impact these conditions have not only on the supply chain, but on the overall health system and patient wellbeing itself. Like someone said at the meeting, the fight against malaria requires patience and persistence. Thankfully, this outstanding team has tons of both.