MSF SA fieldworker, Alec Mkwamba. Photo by: MSF
Meet Alec Mkwamba Photo: Taryn Arnott

Alec Mkwamba, 33, recently left for South Sudan on his third assignment with MSF to work as an Epidemiologist in the Bentiu project. He will be in South Sudan for three months. Alec holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Promotion, Masters of Science in International Health Policy and Management and Masters in Public Health (Epidemiology & Biostatistics).

He grew up in the Eastern city of Zimbabwe. Alec hopes to explore and break new ground for him in MSF. He says his previous assignments have been in stable environments so he is keen to explore this new terrain in South Sudan.
 
Where did you study and what did you study?

  • University of Zimbabwe
  • Brandeis University (Boston USA)
  • Johns Hopkins University (MD, USA)

I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Promotion, Masters of Science in International Health Policy and Management and Masters in Public Health (Epidemiology & Biostatistics)
 
Where did you do your community service?
In Zimbabwe, USA, Mozambique and South Africa
 
Do you have any specialist training or other qualifications?
I studied Fundamentals of Clinical Trials at Harvard University, Epidemics (Hong Kong University) and Responding to epidemics (MSF-Epi-Centre)
 
Where are you going and what’s your position?
I will be working in the Bentiu project in South Sudan as an epidemiologist
 
What do you know about the MSF project and context you will be working in?
It’s a conflict area with Internally Displaced People and a relatively huge number of organisations operating there.
 
What are some of your roles and responsibilities?
I am not yet 100% sure of my specific duties but from previous experiences, I anticipate the following:

  • I will be responsible for disease surveillance for outbreak prone diseases e.g. malaria, diarrhoea common in displaced areas.
  • Monitor the general levels of diseases

What are some of your expectations for this assignment?

  • Exploring or breaking new ground for me in MSF. My previous assignments have been in stable environments in Southern Africa, so this is my first time working in an unstable / conflict environment, so I am very keen to explore this new terrain
  • A different work routine since this is an emergency site
  • To implement what I have leant in theory more recently

 
What challenges are you anticipating during your assignment, are you nervous?
I am a bit nervous about language. There are several languages in South Sudan, so I am a bit worried, but I am sure I will survive. Also the weather is extremely hot, the set-up maybe different to the ones I am used to – not sure if the difference will be too vast, but all the same I am really looking forward to this mission because it is unique for me.
 
Why did you choose this assignment?
I did not actually choose it, but I was matched to it and it was then offered to me and I gladly accepted
 
What do you hope to achieve both personally and for MSF?
Expanding my career wider (In both geographical & technical terms)

Find out more about MSF's work in South Sudan