Neil Malilwe

Neil’s realization of the potential for digital and web-based solutions to improve health in his native Zambia led him to GHC in 2012. As a fellow with the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia, he and his co-fellow led the development of a distance learning initiative for community health workers dealing with cervical cancer. In 2020, Neil’s technical and leadership aptitude took on new importance for COVID-19 response.

While Neil had planned to travel to meet with African youth across the continent and in the diaspora for his work with the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy, COVID-19 travel restrictions pushed him to rely much more exclusively on digital outreach. He began focusing his efforts on mobilizing youth via social media and other digital spaces to prepare for and respond to the pandemic in their communities.

At the same time, Neil noticed something happening in Zambia. Few people seemed to be able to access or interpret what was happening with the country’s COVID-19 cases through the official reports. With the country’s urban-rural digital divide and high mobile phone usage in mind, he designed a user-friendly, quick-to-load COVID-19 data visualization micro-site called

The first people Neil turned to test and provide feedback were GHC community members: “GHC has taught me to adapt, adjust, and overcome challenges and to lean into trustworthy networks and embrace the potential to learn from them. This is especially true during uncertain times of crisis.”

Neil is currently the GHC Zambia Alumni Chapter leader for his fellowship class. He remains committed to doing work that directly impacts others, including deepening collaboration to strengthen health systems and bolster his own ability to persevere when facing challenges. His biggest sources of inspiration? The determined, diverse people he’s surrounded by and high-speed internet.

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