Julio Frenk, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), visited Tanzania and Botswana this February, accompanied by David Hunter, Dean for Academic Affairs, and a number of distinguished visitors.
The delegation arrived first in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where HSPH Professor Wafaie Fawzi has conducted clinical trials and pioneered nutritional interventions to improve the quality of life for HIV/AIDS patients, pregnant women and children.
Dean Frenk and others met privately with Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete. The entire delegation participated in a ceremony at the construction site for the Mnazi Mmoja Center for Excellence in HIV Care and Education, a project that will eventually house a new clinic and training center.
“It was an exhilarating and illuminating experience for Irene and me to be part of Dean Frenk’s trip to Tanzania and Botswana and to personally observe the challenges confronting and achievements attained by HSPH projects,” said Ambassador John Danilovich, a member of the group. “In Tanzania, President Kikwete’s acknowledgement and appreciation of the ongoing work of HSPH and his commitment to their future efforts was particularly impressive.”
The next stop was Botswana to see the work of the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) in prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. In a country that is at the heart of the epidemic, the delegation talked candidly with people living with HIV/AIDS and the doctors and researchers working to end the epidemic.
Highlights in Botswana included a visit to the village of Mochudi, where a community-wide AIDS prevention project is underway, a tour of the Botswana–Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory, and a visit to Princess Marina Hospital. The group also met with mothers involved in the Mma Bana Study, a clinical trial to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, as well as couples in the Discordant Couples Study, in which one partner is infected with HIV and the other partner is not.
“The trip was a real life-changer for me,” said Susan Plum. “The doctors and the staff I met were so optimistic and filled with purpose, I returned to the U.S. resolved to help HSPH in any way that I am able.”
On the last evening, the group visited the Mokolodi Nature Reserve, where after a bush drive, they were treated to a braai, the traditional Botswana barbecue.