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Muza Gondwe

Muza Gondwe on expanding the African Science Café network

12 Oct, 10 | by BMJ Group

Muza GondweMagical, subversive, and democratic are the words that Dr.Daniel Glaser, head of  special projects in public engagement at the Wellcome Trust, used to describe the charm of science cafes in mediating dialogue between scientists and the public. He said this during a two day workshop on African Science cafes held in Nairobi, Kenya last month. more…

Muza Gondwe: glorious nutritious red earth

19 Aug, 10 | by BMJ

Muza GondweI watched her from the kitchen window. Clawing away at the crusty anthill in the backyard. She cupped the red earth in her hand and threw it into the back of her mouth. She chewed, sucked, and then swallowed, satisfied.  I was twelve years old and growing up in Zambia. I had a western upbringing which convinced me my pregnant aunt was indulging in some occult behaviour. But now I am older and wiser or at least more knowledgeable and know the name of this practice – geophagia: “the practice of eating earthy or soil-like substances such as clay, and chalk.” Depending on who you ask, it can be considered an eating disorder, a culturally acceptable practice, or a response to famine. It is common in parts of Africa, India, and southern parts of USA. It was first documented in medicine in 370 BC in ancient Greece and Rome by Hippocrates: more…

Muza Gondwe: Malawi, a small poor country but with a significant scientific publication record

9 Jul, 10 | by BMJ

Muza GondwePoverty is synonymous with Malawi, a small African country, but nevertheless Malawi seems to be leading the field in terms of quality research. At least it is according to the Global Research Report: Africa by Thomson Reuters published in April 2010. The report assessed publication output in the Web of Science database between 1999 and 2008. more…

Muza Gondwe on Gondolosi – African Viagra

2 Jun, 10 | by BMJ

Muza GondweI first came across it on a weekend sojourn to Lilongwe from Blantyre in Malawi. On the drive up to Lilongwe, the guys took an unscheduled pit stop in a bustling market village. After protracted discussions, one of the vendors disappeared and promptly returned with several roots of “white ginger” wrapped in a newspaper.  We continued on our journey with the guys being more animated and extremely anxious. I was completely naïve. This spot is quite popular for buying vegetables so I thought gondolosi was some sort of local vegetable but the guys filled me in on the remainder of the trip about their organic delight and the exciting plans they had for that Saturday night. In Malawi, Gondolosi is believed to promote sexual arousal, enhance sexual performance, increase sensitivity, and cure erectile dysfunction in men. more…

Muza Gondwe: No more days left in the world calendar

5 May, 10 | by BMJ

Muza Gondwe“Counting Malaria Out” is not the most inspiring of themes for the third World Malaria Day that took place on the 25th of April. It is another day to add onto the growing list of internationally recognised health days which by my calculation can exceed 24 internationally observed days in one month, for example in October. Some months have days with competing events, for example 21st March, which is International Day of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, World Down Syndrome Day and World Poetry Day. In addition there are awareness weeks like Disarmament Week, October 24-30, and also months, for example Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. There are themed years like the Year of Astronomy in 2009, and even decades such as the First International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People 1995 – 2004. This makes for quite a hectic schedule. These periods of time are meant to increase awareness, raise funds, be a time of remembrance, and offer information and support on various issues of international concern. They are not just limited to health topics. But by having so many do they lose their significance? more…

Muza Gondwe: The Royal African Science Prize

25 Mar, 10 | by julietwalker

Muza GondweThe audience falls deathly silent in the flamboyantly adorned grand hall where scientists from across Africa have congregated to hear the announcement. Meanwhile, in distant homelands people crowd around televisions and radios, waiting with baited breath.

“This year’s Royal African Science Prize is awarded for scientific achievement that has dramatically improved the health of millions of people not only in Africa but across the world. Their steadfast commitment to overcoming any and all challenges and their unwavering determination led them to a discovery that has transformed the lives of millions.” And they will rise proudly to thundering applause, bursting with pride to have received the highest scientific accolade and to be recognized by their people for their contribution.  more…

Muza Gondwe: Risky media sensationalizations and my African death risk

4 Feb, 10 | by julietwalker

Muza GondweWhat do risky media sensationalizations and my African death risk have in common? They are the remaining mental imprints of the two lectures I have attended so far in the Darwin Risk series at the University of Cambridge. In the first lecture titled, “Trying to quantify our uncertainty” by Professor David Spiegelhalter, I learnt a wonderfully horrid word – “micromorts” – meaning a unit of risk measuring a one in a million probability of death. In the second on Science and the Media, Dr Ben Goldacre gave a very captivating presentation on how health risk reporting can be sensationalized in the media.  As always I try to relate this to Malawi, where I am from. more…

Muza Gondwe: It was not easy to identify them

14 Jan, 10 | by julietwalker

Muza GondweIt was not easy identifying them; I had to rely a lot on nomination from peers. The information in biographical dictionaries of “leading” scientists was scant and searches on the internet revealed very little. But now, I am mid way through my six month fellowship and it seems I am overwhelmed with the numbers, this ever-growing list of names of esteemed African scientists fills me with pride as it demonstrates the magnitude of African ingenuity.  more…

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