A few years ago, Namwaka was working at a government-run laboratory in Zambia’s Copperbelt region. It was her first foray into the health sector, and the sobering lack of resources and subsequent tragedies she encountered nearly made it her last. But she sought out a community of other health equity professionals to weather the long haul and found it in GHC.
Namwaka recalls joining GHC in 2017 as a quiet, methodical scientist. Today, she is known for asking tough questions, setting ambitious timelines, and mobilizing diverse groups to accomplish shared goals. Over the last few years as Program Manager Laboratory Systems with Clinton Health Access Initiative, Namwaka has architected an HIV viral load testing program reaching over a million Zambians.
“I never imagined I would have a role leading diagnostics for a global pandemic across Zambia. Getting here took a lot of hard work, resilience, and sleepless nights. Achieving health equity is a long game but we’re seeing important gains through collective action and that motivates me.”
Now, Namwaka is bringing her advocacy savvy and biomedical science expertise to the task of expanding Zambia’s COVID-19 testing capacity. Her days working from home include drafting national plans for decentralizing testing, organizing virtual meetings with the Ministry of Health in Zambia’s laboratory services directorate and other stakeholders, and advising labs by phone on appropriate testing protocol and results dissemination. She is also an active member of GHC’s newly formed COVID-19 Collective Action Coalition in Zambia.
“I remember thinking at the close of my GHC fellowship year that it was the end, but it was just the beginning. Being part of the GHC community has been so rewarding — the technical advice, professional development support, and networking connections we share make us better. The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.”