Sir Richard Feachem and Dr. Roly Gosling welcome the MEI’s new leadership

A letter from Sir Richard Feachem

This month the Malaria Elimination Initiative starts a new phase of its work to accelerate progress towards a world free of malaria; with new leadership, new partnerships, and new funding. I could not be more delighted or optimistic about the future.

MEI launched in 2007 as the flagship initiative of the newly-created Global Health Group at the Institute for Global Health Sciences at UCSF. Over the past 14 years, mainly under the leadership of Dr Roly Gosling, MEI has raised global ambition, promoted regional elimination, driven a broad portfolio of operational research, and contributed to knowledge, policy, and practice on malaria elimination. Our work has emphasized both the “software” of malaria eradication, especially management and finance, and the “hardware”, including diagnosis, treatment and vector control.

This work and its impact have been made possible by close partnerships with many individuals and organizations working on the front line in malaria endemic countries, including national malaria programs, implementing organizations, and research institutions. Our work would be impossible without these relationships, for which I am most grateful.

On April 1, the leadership of MEI passed from Roly Gosling to Allison Tatarsky. I have been immensely impressed by Allison since our first meeting in 2008. Her work since then, both with CHAI and MEI, has clearly demonstrated her abilities and potential. Allison combines strong leadership and management skills, impressive technical knowledge, exceptional ability to build productive partnerships, and the great advantage of being a kind person. MEI is in good hands. I have no doubt that Allison, together with her colleagues, will write a brilliant new chapter of partnerships and impact for MEI.

Sir Richard Feachem

A letter from Dr. Roly Gosling

After more than 10 years at the helm of the UCSF Malaria Elimination Initiative, it is with great pride and excitement that I hand over directorship of the MEI to Allison Tatarsky. Many of you know Allison already: she has over a decade of experience working in service of ministries of health on malaria strategy, operational research, and program implementation, including nearly 7 years working with the MEI team. Her deep malaria elimination knowledge, exciting and innovative ideas, and natural leadership abilities make her an excellent choice to lead the MEI.

Allison was actually already collaborating with the MEI before I joined the team. In 2008, Allison was working for CHAI and the Southern African Malaria Elimination Support Team (SAMEST), which was funded by the MEI at the time. Allison started working on malaria elimination first in Mauritius, moved on to Botswana, and then to South Africa. It was in South Africa, during my first months as the leader of MEI in 2011, that I met Allison and was immediately struck by her energy, creativity and clear leadership abilities. In 2014, the MEI was lucky to be able to bring Allison on board to lead our vector control portfolio, where she has blossomed. Allison brings her excellence at building collaborations and partnerships, and a deep sense of programmatic challenges to the leadership position.

During my tenure, the MEI has made significant contributions to malaria elimination progress, working alongside the leadership of national malaria programs and in-country implementing partners. The MEI’s team includes staff and faculty with technical skills that span epidemiology, parasite and vector genetics, entomology, clinical trials, operational research, global health financing, program management and leadership development and capacity building. The breadth of the capabilities of the group astounds me to this day. Our focus has been how to support malaria endemic countries to scale up learnings and approaches from elimination settings. Under the guidance and vision of Allison, and with the support from our funders and country partners, the MEI is launching into a new era. This new approach applies our collective malaria elimination knowledge and toolkit more generally to the malaria endemic world. There are many examples of how our work from low endemic settings reflects on the challenges faced by health systems and diseases globally. For example:

  • Local solutions for local problems: Our Malaria Elimination Toolkit includes problem solving tools to help district level health workers to identify the operational, technical and political barriers to making local progress and supports through teamwork strengthening, advocacy capacity building and technical frameworks how to overcome these challenges.
  • Integration of interventions leads to greatest impact: We worked with country partners to demonstrate how implementation of combined vector control and chemoprevention is better than either alone.
  • Problem solving approaches support malaria programs to be innovative: Our technical frameworks for problem solving, particularly around entomological surveillance and high-risk malaria populations, guide malaria programs to find solutions from all aspects of malaria control rather than prescriptive solutions based on either vector control or case management or behavior change.

All these learnings and more apply generally to malaria control, elimination and eventual eradication, although highlighted and exemplified from malaria elimination settings. For this eye-opening experience I thank all my colleagues from countries all over the world for teaching me and the MEI team so much. None of this would have been possible without their incredible work, as well as the vision of Sir Richard Feachem and the funding of the the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. So, with all my encouragement I hand the baton over to Allison and say “Onward towards a malaria-free world!”

Dr. Roly Gosling