This summer I am working for the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) in Tanzania with the Global Malaria team to improve private sector access to Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Tests. I did not arrive alone for this experience, my wife Kimi and 1 year-old daughter Ava made the trip with me.
This is my first time in Africa, although having only been in Dar it doesn’t feel like I have really seen a continent, but rather a city. The Tanzanians I have met so far have been extremely friendly and welcoming-- having a cute toddler has probably helped more than I know. I thought I would be more overwhelmed than I was on arrival, as I had memories of New Delhi shaping my expectations, but Dar is a smaller city, less dense and due to the amount of English spoken a tad more like home. A major surprise has been the heavy traffic and the lack of alternatives to driving. Dar is a city where you need a vehicle to get around, and although getting a taxi or bajaj is not difficult, it has added a new wrinkle to daily planning around even simple things like buying groceries. My first two days on the job were spent meeting the importers around Dar, and one day I was gone for 12 hours and in traffic for about 7 of those hours.
My project will involve a lot of interaction with the importers of malarial commodities and hopefully some of the wholesalers within the country. I have wanted to work internationally for a long time, and I think the biggest surprise has been how similar business operates here compared to my time in the US. A lot of my work experience especially managing business partners, product launches, and incentive structures feels a lot more applicable than I expected. I am looking forward to the challenge of building connections quickly and brainstorming solutions that can have a tangible effect on malaria management in Tanzania and the rest of East Africa.