Alumnus steers the ship in the sub-Saharan fight against TB

Since earning her Masters in International Public Health from Sydney University in 2007 on a scholarship funded by the Australian Government, Dr Llang Maama-Maime has risen rapidly through the ranks of the public healthcare system to become a valuable asset to the Health Ministry of Lesotho.

In a country where skills shortages translate to one physician for 17,000 people, Dr Maama-Maime’s qualifications have brought much-needed capacity to a country that is facing considerable health challenges. Lesotho covers a small territory, measuring just over 30,000 square kilometres with a population of 1.9 million people, but it has the third-highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world, affecting a quarter of its population, and the fourth-highest incidence of tuberculosis (TB).

More recently, an increasing number of co-infections and multi-drug resistant TB strains have raised the alarm, calling for decisive and collaborative action to be taken if Lesotho is to meet the targets stipulated under the sixth Millennium Development Goal.

Dr Maama-Maime believes that the knowledge and skills she acquired in Australia have given her the resilience and expertise needed to deal with her demanding position. For the past several years, Dr Maama-Maime has served a dual role for the Ministry of Health as Director for Disease Control and Manager for the national TB program. Responsible for the governance and implementation of a US$17 million grant from The Global Fund towards the Stop TB Campaign, Dr Maama-Maime attributes her planning skills, improved academic writing and more innovative thinking to a global network of health professionals made accessible through Australia Awards.

In 2012, Dr Maama-Maime expanded her leadership impact beyond the borders of Lesotho as Chairperson for the Technical Advisory Committee Working Group for the Southern African Development Community(SADC). As a result of several national consultations with the governments of Lesotho’s closest neighbours, a landmark achievement in multilateral cooperation was reached when the Declaration on Tuberculosis in the Mining Sector was signed by 15 heads of state. Dr Maama-Maime’s contribution was not only to engage with the signatories in individual consultations, but to table possible solutions and draw up a regional budget of how the disease could be better managed.

Dr Maama-Maime is grateful to the programme for having connected her with a global network of knowledge and having raised her confidence to contribute academically to the discourse around disease control.

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