March 8, 2020

MCDI Malaria Warriors Series Presents: José Osa Osa

José Osa Osa

By Matthew S. Lynch

" I want to leave the public with a functioning NHIS in our country, and therefore leave a legacy of solving public health problems as well as improving the health of the population."-Jose Osa Osa

Mr. José Osa Osa, the director of Equatorial Guinea’s (EG’s) National Information System, gave us an extensive interview from his office in EG’s capitol, Malabo. His high disposition of service to the population, dedication to his work, and kindness are some of his great characteristics. Please enjoy our interview below…

Q: When did you start working for MCDI / how did you learn about the Malaria project?

It all started when I came across a newspaper advertisement for a summer job with MCDI in June 2011, my last year in university. I was particularly interested in answering it because it involved cartography, which was part of my studies in university to become a petroleum engineer, and MCDI came highly recommended from some of my classmates who worked for the organization in the past. The opportunity to work for a good company that allowed me the chance to utilize a skill I was already honing was something I couldn’t pass up.

After applying for the position, I underwent a competition and some exams that were taken later. My first job with MCDI was a 3-month contract position. It was the first time we had to map the whole of Bioko Island and assign codes to individual houses on the island using satellite imaging, for some areas of the island, and hand-drawn sketches That was the beginning of the mapping system that is now being used at MCDI for the BIMEP.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of that work?

There are several.

Firstly, it’s planning, as it is the basis of everything we do. To see that the whole project can be planned in an efficient and evidence-based way, activities implemented with continuous monitoring and at the end, results demonstrated, it is the most positive impact I find in this work at MCDI. With efficient planning, we have been able to drastically reduce malaria on Bioko Island.

This leads into my second point, which is witnessing the impact of our work. I overhear people all the time admire the great reduction in malaria prevalence and mortality. It makes me very happy to hear people noting our success and knowing I was a part of making life better for the population.

Thirdly, in terms of personal development, you gain a lot of knowledge and grow as a professional.

Q: Can you describe a regular day at the office?

A typical day (depending on meeting agendas, national strategic work, and field activity) starts in the office at 8:00 a.m. I then check on my daily agenda, which consists of meetings and work plans with other programs and agencies that work to strengthen the national health system. Additionally, I coordinate with my field team to reinforce our means of data collection, and occasionally, I have the opportunity to participate in conferences or workshops.

Q: What is the size of your team?

I have one main assistant and six volunteer statistical assistants to whom I donate a portion of my monthly income to cover transportation costs. These assistants have done an extraordinary job, ultimately allowing us to have health facilities nationwide that report their activity monthly – something that has not happened for 30 years. Knowing that these reports and this type of comprehensive coverage is only possible from the efforts of individuals working for travel stipends, fills me with joy and a great sense of satisfaction.

Q: How has your life changed since you started working with MCDI?

MCDI has greatly expanded my intellectual horizons. I focused on the oil industry for my university studies, but MCDI redirected me to public health. Now, I know much more about public health than I did before I joined MCDI, or more so than some people who are working in the sector.

Q: What is your trajectory?

I want to remain in the healthcare industry, whether or not that includes working at the United Nations Agency or working in the private sector, but not before first ensuring the NHIS functions well at the national level. While working in the healthcare industry in a private capacity is where I have always seen myself ending up, making sure the NHIS functions well at the national level is a personal objective.

Q: What do you think is the project’s legacy? What about your own?

MCDI-BIMEP’s legacy will be one of transformative positive change, as it established a program and national capacity that didn’t exist before. In fact, I am ensuring this legacy through the creation of a national organization continuing MCDI-BIMEP’s work and magnifying its scale. I want to leave the public with a functioning NHIS in our country, and therefore leave a legacy of solving public health problems as well as improving the health of the population. Hopefully my efforts will help the people of my country, and then expand out to the rest of humanity.

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

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