COVID-19 Response: Spotlight on Natasha Mbabazi
Natasha Mbabazi joined Global Health Corps (GHC) in 2014 in the role of Programs Officer at the Ministry of Health in Malawi and has since expanded her influence and impact as a global health leader. During COVID-19, she worked to develop and launch COVIDIQ, a platform to gather community updates via text message to predict emerging coronavirus hotspots and outbreaks across the U.S.
Natasha first learned about Global Health Corps when she was a staffer for a U.S. Senator in Washington, D.C. Her relationship management and policy research skills proved invaluable when she transitioned to the global health sector, joining GHC as a fellow at the Malawi Ministry of Health in 2014. As she shared, “GHC taught me how you can connect the dots and how your skills from one sector can be transferable to another. And I gained confidence through GHC . . . After the fellowship, I went for my masters program in London with classmates who were these accomplished doctors, humanitarian workers, and ministerial staff from all over the world, and I truly felt that, yes, I had a lot to learn from them, but believed I could really hold my own and had something to contribute. I felt more self assured and more self aware after the leadership training and other programming.”
Reflecting back on her fellowship, Natasha noted that the highlights were the lasting relationships she built and the clarifying of health equity as her north star. Both kept her grounded and resilient when COVID-19 hit. Throughout the pandemic, interstate and international collaboration was common within the GHC network. Natasha recalls those working with supply chains helping others identify where to find PPE globally; those working in communications sharing the resources their respective organizations were producing; and the digital health and data analysis alumni combining forces to track the virus to better combat it.
When the news was grim, and the work to combat COVID became more difficult, Natasha relied on the GHC network. In particular, she gleaned inspiration and insights from her peers around the world as she worked to co-develop and launch COVIDIQ, a platform to gather community updates via text message to predict emerging coronavirus hotspots and outbreaks across the U.S. Beyond this work, she is committed to applying a global lens to advocating for health equity: “COVID-19 turned health services, education, and employment remote overnight, yet the majority of the world remains offline. It is critical for digital access to be advocated for within the framework of healthcare for all toward the right to health.”