March 3, 2020

MCDI Malaria Warriors Series Presents: Liberato Vaz Motobe

Liberato Vaz Motobe (left) and his predecessor Wonder Philip Phiri (right)

By Matthew S. Lynch

"I want people to say, ‘that man over there, he worked for his people in the eradication of malaria in Bioko." – Liberato Vaz Motobe, BIMEP component manager for IRS (Indoor Residual Spraying)

Witness to the ravages of malaria on his fellow countrymen and women in Equatorial Guinea, Liberato Vaz Motobe has tirelessly worked to train people in the fight against the terrible disease. Like so many other Equatoguineans, he strives to improve the lives of his fellow denizens and ensure the eradication of malaria for future generations.

Last week, the 27th round of IRS launched with Liberato as the manager. In honor of that, we spoke with Liberato and the interview is below:

Q: When and how did you start working for MCDI / the project?

I applied for work with the Bioko Island Malaria Control Project (predecessor to BIMEP) after high school and subsequently began my training for the program.

Q: What is your current role and how has it evolved since it began?

I am responsible for vector control. When I started with MCDI, I was a sprayer going in the field every day during the spraying season. Over time, my superiors saw that I had a lot of interest in, and dedication to, my work. Eventually, I was promoted to the position I currently have. Personally, everything I know on the subject of malaria is what I've learned from my supervisors and from reading books.

Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your work with MCDI / the project? Can you cite an example of a rewarding experience you had where you saw the impact of your work or project directly?

Before the start of activities in Bioko, the prevalence of malaria was very high. If you went to the hospital, you could see children laying 2-3 to a bed. After one-to-two years, we started to see a substantial reduction in malaria prevalence.

Q: What have been some of the challenges of your position?

There was a time when I wanted to leave the project, since the contracts they gave us were short term. Usually, the spraying rounds were three months, so once the round was over, everyone had to go home to wait for the second round. But, due to my patriotism and with the support of my superiors, I continued because it's really worth it. Now we are seeing the benefits of our efforts in vector control.

Q: Could you describe a typical work day?

I have multiple daily tasks, as I do work in the office as well as well as in the field. I have to make sure that the equipment the sprayers use is complying with the environmental and resident safety regulations. In addition, I personally verify that the teams are doing a good job.

Today, I arrived at 6 a.m. to print some data we deliver every Monday to government officials who help us present the process of the round. After that, I went to the office to check the database, download important information, analyze the data, and print materials for our field teams so they have their areas programmed for tomorrow. Then, I recorded the progress of our planned activities in a report we send to the management team.

Q: How do you see the impact of your work in the community?

The majority of the population values what we have done, as they see malaria-related mortality on the island has dropped a lot.

Q: How has your life changed since you started working for MCDI / the project?

Before MCDI, I had never had job. The company provided me with a job opportunity and I have succeeded at it, so I value it a lot. I have decided to continue with MCDI while they are in Equatorial Guinea. The MCDI malaria project has changed my life. Every day I get to learn new things.

Q: How do you visualize your professional career for the future? How is this different from what you imagined before you started working for MCDI?

In the future I want to continue working with this type of project. In Africa, we have lost many families and many of our brothers because of malaria. I want to continue working in malaria eradication, even if it is not in EG.

Q Is there anything else you would like to say?

I want to thank MCDI for its great effort as well as contributions in Equatorial Guinea, and for their commitment to training Equatoguineans. We are all committed to malaria eradication in the country. As long as we have resources and people who come to our country to help in malaria eradication, the locals and I personally will support the malaria projects to reach the goal of ending malaria.

Matthew S. Lynch is the Assistant Communications Officer for MCDI in the US.

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