What is actually doing…Dr. Benjamin Mayasi, epidemiologist and graduate of “Global Health Studies”?

Donnerstag, 15. April 2021 | 

Schlagwörter »  |  Thema: englisch, Was macht eigentlich?

In 2018, Dr. Benjamin Mayasi was one of the first students to receive the study start-up grant (”Studiennothilfe”), and today he works on the national steering team for virus control in the Kingdom of Lesotho. Lesotho is a kingdom in southern Africa with a population of approximately 2.2 million.  The control team is tasked with containing the virus in Lesotho and obtaining information on its regional spread. It is supported by the WHO. 

Picture: ©Christian Feige, Alumni Freiburg

In addition to his master’s degree in epidemiology and biostatistics, Mayasi completed a one-year master’s program in global health studies in Freiburg, Germany. From 2018 to 2019, he focused on the study of infectious diseases and their relationship to socioeconomic factors as part of the program. The program focuses specifically on lower-income countries.

How did it come about that you were commissioned to combat the pandemic in Lesotho just over a year after graduating in Freiburg?

Benjamin Mayasi: My past experiences played an important role. Before coming to Freiburg, I already had my first Master of Science in Epidemiology and Biostatistic and I also worked as an Epidemiologist in South Africa at National Institute for Communicable Diseases for over 2 years. A part of my role as an epidemiologist was to monitor the surveillance system for ILI and SARS in the country.

What situation did you find in Lesotho when you started your work on pandemic control in the summer?

Benjamin Mayasi: When I arrived in Lesotho on the 10 June 2020, the country started to experience the increase of number of COVID-19 cases, there was an urgent need for experts to strengthen the surveillance system and provide technical support to the rapid response team (active case finding and contact tracing)

What have you been able to achieve so far?

Benjamin Mayasi: So far, I have achieved a lot for surveillance: I strengthened the country surveillance system, identified different hotspots, conducted different clutters outbreak investigation, advised the committee on adjusting the public health and social measures. I have also developed many tools and materials in line with the WHO COVID-19 surveillance guidelines, data management and analysis, report writing etc…

What next steps have you planned with the steering committee?

Benjamin Mayasi: We plan to continue monitoring the situation, assuring the country is using the updated tools and working on COVID-19 vaccine readiness as the country is currently preparing to receive its first batch of the vaccine.

All in all – what is the biggest challenge in dealing with the pandemic in Lesotho, also compared to other countries?

Benjamin Mayasi: I cannot talk about other countries as I have only worked with Lesotho during the pandemic but the fact remains the same with most countries: We are all dealing with new information everyday which needs to be digested first and only then we are able to provide advice to the team. We are also dealing with different stakeholders (Government, NGOs and other partners) and we work under a lot of pressure as an international expert is expected to deliver in short amount of time.

When you think back to your studies in Freiburg, to what extent did the “Global Health” program prepare you for such a challenge?

Benjamin Mayasi: The Global Health program did prepare me well, as a global health expert I amm able to understand the country health system, to identify gaps and to be able to collaborate with different stakeholders.

Apart from your studies, what thought comes to your mind when you think back to your time in Freiburg?

Benjamin Mayasi: When I think of my time in Freiburg, I am always overwhelmed with feelings, the support that I received from our program coordinator, the staff and my classmates, and also the 3 Euro pasta that we used to go eat at Wannerstrasse.

Thank you very much for the interview!

The questions were asked by Laura Glomb

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