Deputy Chief of Party, Madagascar CBIHP
What was your childhood like?
I was born and live in Madagascar. My mother was a teacher, my father a doctor. All my siblings have university degrees, but I’ve spent the most time in school.
How did you get started working in public health?
In 1992 I got my MD, but when I got a job with the United Nations Population Fund, I turned to public health instead. From there I worked a succession of public health jobs before taking a two-year break from working outside the home to raise my daughter Mélaine, who is now 18.
Where did JSI come in?
In 1999 I came to JSI to work on the Jereo Salama Isika (‘Look, we are healthy’) project, which improved health care practice and delivery. I was in charge of our local partners. In 2001, the Packard Foundation invited us to be a part of Madagascar’s first nonprofit research center, which studied population and health. Our involvement with the center led us to the Madagascar Green Healthy Communities (MGHC) project. I became the director of this exemplary effort to preserve the endangered forest areas (90% of species are endemic and threatened by rapid population growth, resource overexploitation, and deforestation), and to improve the livelihoods of our 19,720 human inhabitants.
“In Malagasy, ‘mahefa’ means ability to overcome a challenge. JSI has heightened my ability to improve the health of my nations.”
What other projects have you worked on at JSI?
When the project closed in 2005, I went back to school to get my MPH. By 2011, I was working with our National AIDS Committee, in charge of the MARPs (most-at-risk populations) project, funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. I got a call from a former colleague at JSI asking if I was interested in working on a new Madagascar project. Now I’m not one to leave unfinished business, but this offer coincided with a break in our project at NAC, so I was able to say yes without having to compromise my conscience!
What work do you do now?
I am now the technical deputy chief of party to the MAHEFA project. Although I don’t practice medicine, my MD skills are useful in policy compliance, research design and implementation, curriculum reviews, and program supervision and reporting. My husband works with the United Nations Development Programme to improve civil society skills in governance and social cohesion. I am proud that we both work to make our country a better place. In Malagasy, mahefa means ability to overcome a challenge. JSI has heightened my ability to improve the health of my nation.