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'Meet the Author': Mwaka Athuman

Tuesday, 06 Sep 2016

Welcome to our first report in the CIDG 'Meet the Author' series. This month we talk with CIDG review author Mwaka Athuman, who is based at the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania. 


Could you describe where you currently work and what you do there?

I’m a research officer working with Ifakara Health Institute at the Rufiji site. Currently I’m finishing an MSc in Epidemiology and Applied Biostatistics at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College (KCMUco). I’m also the investigator of the FSAT project (focal screening and treatment) which aims to reduce malaria transmission in the Rufiji site and am Co-Principle Investigator (Co-PI) of the therapeutic efficacy and safety of antimalarial drugs (in vivo study).

What is a typical day for you?

Apart from the academic activities, my daily routine in the FSAT team includes providing technical support to the clinical team and guiding them on screening of focal points, and meetings with field members once a week to discuss progress reports and to plan the next activity. As a Co-PI of the in vivo study my role is to provide technical support, plan on data collection such as enrollments, lab procedures, data managements, and other procedures as directed in the protocol.


What prompted you to work in this area?

Spending my early time in malaria projects made me realize the burden of malaria and consequences that we are facing in developing countries and in my country. Since then, my interest has focused on malaria, with the aim of using my knowledge to identify potential areas to work or intervene in this disease.


How did you first hear about Cochrane?

I heard about Cochrane four years ago, when the groups from Liverpool and South Africa came to Tanzania to conduct a workshop on systematic reviews.


Which Cochrane reviews have you authored?

I have authored one Cochrane review: 'Intermittent preventive antimalarial treatment for children with anaemia'. (You can access the full-text article here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD010767.pub2/abstract).


What has/have been the impact(s) of the published review(s)?

Being cited by others. Although the findings of my review have not yet been used directly for guidelines and policies, the review has broadened the possibilities of other areas of research.


Of what contribution or achievement are you most proud?

Publishing in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews; it is a high quality evidence tool in research, which can be relied upon in policymaking and reviewing guidelines.


Who (or what) has been the biggest influence on your career to date?

My project leader, who I have been working with in several projects, has been a major influence on my career for trusting me, giving opportunities, and guiding me in my career. Not only that, but the opportunities of working in big trials, meeting different people, and learning from them has given me the courage and experience to continue working in research.


What are the major challenges that still remain in your field?

Lack of expertise or technical support in some of the important aspects in the field that I’m working with.


What is the most rewarding aspect of being involved with Cochrane?

Contributing to the evidence that has an impact in public health.


What motivates you to stay involved with Cochrane?

Knowing that my contribution to science can be used in public health.


Please list three words you would associate with Cochrane.

Evidence, decision, and impact.


What do you do in your spare time? How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?

I spend time with my family and exercise.


Thank you Mwaka for sharing your thoughts and experiences as a Cochrane review author with the CIDG editorial team!


The CIDG editorial base is located at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool, UK. The CIDG is led by Professor Paul Garner (Co-ordinating Editor), Dave Sinclair (Joint Co-ordinating Editor), and Anne-Marie Stephani (Managing Editor). Over 600 authors from some 52 countries contribute to the preparation of the Cochrane Reviews. They are supported by an international team of Editors, each with topic or methodological expertise. 

The CIDG’s main areas of work are on determination of the effects of interventions on the prevention or treatment infectious diseases of relevance to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, particularly malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases. As of 2015, it also manages the HIV/AIDS portfolio of reviews. The aims of the CIDG are to impact on policy and research in tropical diseases through the production of high quality, relevant, systematic reviews, and to lead developments in review quality improvement and effective dissemination of findings.