Small Grants, Big Impact: Audio Interview with John Amuasi, ARNTD Executive Director

In this interview, Dr. John Amuasi, MBChB, MPH, MS, PhD discusses the impetus and hopes for the African Researchers’ Small Grants Program – an effort supported by the African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD).

As ARNTD’s Executive Director, Dr. Amuasi led the charge for the creation of the new funding program, which supported the work of six early and mid-career researchers based in Africa to tackle barriers to the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases, or NTDs, in their home countries. The selected researchers are based in Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania and Togo, and their work focuses on all five of the NTDs addressed by preventive chemotherapy, or PC-NTDs.

This interview took place on November 4, at the fifth annual COR-NTD Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Personality Profile – Dr. Eduardo Samo Gudo Jr., Mozambique

Dr. Samo GudoThe ARNTD is pleased to profile Dr. Eduardo Samo Gudo Jr. as the second personality in a new series aimed at promoting the visibility of ARNTD members, their research activities and collaborations.

Dr. Eduardo Samo Gudo Jr. graduated in 2003 as a medical doctor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, and worked as a researcher in Immunology, at the National Institute of Health at Ministry of Health in Mozambique. He graduated with a PhD in Immunology in 2012 from Oswaldo Cruz Institute, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was awarded a junior post-doctoral fellowship by the European Foundation Initiative for African Research into Neglected Tropical Diseases (EFINTD) from 2012 to 2015. He currently holds a senior post-doctoral position with the EFINTD which will terminate in 2018.

Dr. Gudo is a recipient of several awards including a National Research Fund grant in Mozambique to implement the project entitled Epidemiological and Geospatial Mapping of Leptospirosis in Humans and Rodents in three cities in Mozambique and a German Research Foundation (Deutche Forschungsgemeinschaft – DFG) grant to implement the project entitled Characterization of the diversity of and human immune responses against CHIKV strains from Mozambique.

His position as the Scientific Director at the National Institute of Health at the Ministry of Health puts him in an informed position to underscore the challenges that confront Mozambique in the efforts to control and eradicate NTDs. Dr. Gudo opines that inadequate investment in research and surveillance and the evident insufficient data to inform policy formulation contributes significantly to the high burden of NTDs and their associated morbidity and mortality. He also indicates that international bodies prioritize the fight against HIV, Malaria and TB over NTDs and thus they commit huge financial support to research in these diseases. He also blames high poverty rate as a driving force that worsens the burden of NTDs.

Eduardo believes that the multiplicity of determinants of NTD persistence requires mid to long term comprehensive, multisectoral and integrated high level plan to control and eradicate. Such interventions should include the priority to invest in multidisciplinary research and surveillance, and the development of national policies and regulations to reduce several of the avoidable determinants.

In the face of scarcity of resources in the fight against NTDs, Dr. Gudo hinted that African philanthropists represent a wealth of opportunity that could be roped in to raise the needed financial support for NTD research, control and elimination. He however believes that scientists have the responsibility to generate strong evidence to support the visible negative impact these diseases of poverty will have on future generations if investments in their research were not made today. Coupled with that, Dr. Gudo calls for stronger engagement with civil society organizations and other stakeholders to ensure strong partnership and advocacy to bring the issues of NTD research, control and elimination to limelight.

Being passionate about public health, Dr. Gudo is motivated to continue in NTD research as he is convinced that the humble achievements and successes he chalks in his research have significant impact in improving the quality of health of Mozambicans. The thrill of grooming the next generation of scientists to perpetuate NTD research is an added incentive.

He considers that the young and enthusiastic researchers that constitute the membership of this Network should make it possible for networking and bridging of experienced scientists and research groups or institutions toward a common goal of an African continent free of NTDs.  When asked about what he envisions ARNTD to be in the next 10yrs Dr. Eduardo indicated that “I see ARNTD becoming a leading research platform for networking of scientists on NTD in the continent and a strong scientific advisor for policy making process in the continent for the main stakeholders such as governments and other continental or sub-regional agencies or communities”

Dr. Gudo is a founding member of ARNTD and has no doubts that this network can fill an important gap of building and promoting research capacity on NTDs in Africa.

 

The most dangerous enemies of humanity

The Enemies of Humanity

Arthropod-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease and the Zika virus, seem to be emerging and re-emerging at an alarming rate in the last few years. In this post, we discuss how the technological progress and promise of modern medicine and biotechnology, which has saved countless lives already, contrasts with the continual problems caused by the rapid changes in our world, the lack of political will to provide funding to develop new and implement existing solutions, and the simple lack of public awareness and support.

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