Mar 10, 2021
Letter from Dr. Guy Palmer & Employee Spotlight: Dr. Imam Mzimbiri
Letter from Dr. Guy Palmer
2020 proved to be a tragic year for many and for all of us a challenge to adapt as we seek to support our communities. This has been true for our communities in Africa as they deal with ever-present diseases, including rabies, complicated and exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic.
Our work in Kenya and Tanzania pivoted early in 2020. More focus was put on analyzing the collected data and for working with global partners like the World Health Organization (WHO) and GAVI, the vaccine alliance.
In the fall, Rabies Free Africa was able to restart vaccination programs under conditions that ensured our staff were protected in accordance with national regulations. In Tanzania, we have continued our focus on testing and implementing a decentralized, community-based method to deliver vaccines.
Key to this was our work establishing the thermostability of rabies vaccine when stored in village conditions. It also includes locally sourced clay pots to serve as cool storage for vaccines in rural communities with no access to electricity. This local storage allows trained livestock field officers to deliver the vaccines on a year-round basis, avoiding the loss of herd immunity that occurs with only annual vaccination campaigns. These strategies, working with existing personnel and innovations based on community need, continue to drive us toward Zero by 30: no human deaths due to rabies by 2030.
Zero by 30 is a critically important goal: it provides a timeline that drives a sense of urgency, avoiding the complacency that can see hard won progress evaporate. COVID-19 has impacted that goal as many programs around the world were put on hold while communities dealt with the pandemic. To help get programs operating again, we will need to continue to share what we learn so that others can offer vaccines to the communities that need it the most.
On behalf of everyone at Rabies Free Africa, I want to thank you for your continued support of the program. You are making a big difference in the lives of people in Africa and around the world.
With deep appreciation and warm wishes,
Dr. Guy Palmer
Director of Rabies Free Africa
Employee Spotlight: Dr. Imam Mzimbiri
Meet Dr. Imam Mzimbiri, Rabies Project Manager in Tanzania
Where do you live?
Moshi, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Why is it important to eliminate rabies?
It is important to eliminate rabies because it's a killer disease in humans, livestock, and wildlife in Tanzania.
Have you known anyone who has died from rabies?
Yes, I have known several people who have died from rabies.
Can you see the program having an impact?
Yes, I can see the program to have an impact as follows:
1. Reduced cases of rabies to almost zero in human, wildlife, and livestock in the villages under the project;
2. Increased level of education in the community (awareness) regarding rabies in the project area;
3. Children and teenagers in most of the villages have never seen a rabid dog.
What do you do when you are not fighting rabies?
When I am not fighting rabies, I am doing other things like reading books, newspapers and watching TV.