Gates Foundation awards medical delivery grant to 2011 alumna
Through one of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s funding initiatives, Carthage alumna Zawadi Mageni-Mboma ’11 has won a $100,000 grant to improve access to medical supplies in her home country of Tanzania.
The project, titled “Engaging local shopkeepers to enhance last-mile delivery of essential medical supplies in hard-to-reach areas,” was awarded one of 51 Grand Challenges Explorations grants in November. As the principal investigator, Ms. Mageni-Mboma felt both ecstatic and surprised.
“This was my second attempt to submit a concept note to the foundation as main investigator and third application as a co-investigator,” she said. “So, it was a nice realization to the saying, ‘Fall down seven times, stand up eight.’”
Ms. Mageni-Mboma spotted the urgent need while traveling for a separate project with Ifakara Health Institute. She’s a research scientist with the nonprofit, which is considered one of Africa’s preeminent health research organizations.
Community health centers in remote parts of Tanzania often ran out of certain medicines and other critical supplies, partly because crumbling roads impeded truck deliveries. In contrast, Ms. Mageni-Mboma noticed that shopkeepers in the same areas managed to replenish their kiosks regularly.
Her solution? Tap into those entrepreneurs’ resourcefulness.
Under the 18-month grant, the team of five will train shopkeepers to deliver the goods from district headquarters. That training will cover “how to handle essential medical supplies, work ethics, and logistics to ensure that supplies are delivered efficiently and in desired condition,” she said.
One of her co-investigators is fellow Carthage graduate Samson Kiware ’07, a colleague in IHI’s Environmental Health and Ecological Sciences Department. After studying computer science and mathematics as an undergraduate, Mr. Kiware went on to earn a Ph.D. from Marquette University.
Grand Challenges Explorations supports ideas that can break the mold to help solve persistent global health and development challenges. Successful projects are eligible to apply for continuing funding up to $1 million.
A geography and earth science and environmental science major at Carthage, Ms. Mageni-Mboma plans to use GIS software to map the relevant health centers and monitor (in real time) the flow of supplies from pick-up sites.
“My entire Carthage education and experience has become very practical in my current position,” she said.
Like Mr. Kiware, she separately pursues solutions to Tanzania’s battle with malaria. That’s the focus of Ms. Mageni-Mboma’s research as a doctoral candidate at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
She joined the institute’s staff shortly after her graduation in 2011. Besides her research capacity, Ms. Mageni-Mboma is the senior grants and contracts officer.
To cap off a truly memorable month, Ms. Mageni-Mboma got married Nov. 25. Several other Carthage alumni attended the wedding.