Local Talent Central to Success of PMI Zimbabwe

Nov 2018
Regis Magauzi - U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (Zimbabwe)

When Regis Magauzi joined the Harare-based Zimbabwe team of the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) as a malaria specialist in August 2012, he was no stranger to the malaria landscape in his home country. For 16 years, Regis had worked in public health at the national, provincial and district level of government, including malaria coordination at the district level. He then spent a year and a half with PSI as malaria manager whose portfolio included net distribution and social and behavior change communication across interventions.

Currently, Regis and the other two members of the PMI Zimbabwe team support the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health and Child Care’s National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) and manage the PMI portfolio.

I’ve enjoyed myself with PMI because I know the other side of the story,” he said, “It makes it easier for PMI to have someone who has linkages because they already see you as part of the team. When we go out to districts and they see me come in with Americans, it makes interactions easier.”

“Through challenging circumstances and difficult environments PMI’s FSNs have always been known to keep a calm demeanor while focusing on the mission at hand. They bring unparallelled passion, commitment, and energy to our Initiative are an irreplaceable asset to the team.”

- Dr. Ken Staley, U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator

Peter Troell, PMI resident advisor in Zimbabwe, agrees. He often introduces himself as Regis’ colleague when attending meetings or site visits in Zimbabwe without Regis because of the connection it creates.

People always ask me to bring back to them their warmest regards,” Peter said. “Regis is well respected in the Zimbabwe malaria community and his expertise is highly regarded.”

The son of a primary school master, Regis grew up in Mudzi, but has lived in Harare for the past 15 years. He is one of PMI’s 40 fully-funded Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs). FSNs make up the largest portion of USAID’s workforce and are local hires who are usually of the same nationality as the host country.

Regis provides the Zimbabwean context for the PMI/Zim team, an important ingredient in programming strategies and decisions,” said Christie Billingsley, PMI resident advisor in Zimbabwe.

In 2016, Regis spent eight weeks in Crystal City, Virginia, as an FSN fellow on PMI’s vector control team. The fellowship experience included visits to CDC in Atlanta, to offices of implementing partners in DC, and to Capitol Hill to learn how Congress approves the funds for PMI. In addition, he attended weekly PMI team meetings and met with other technical teams at headquarters. Regis describes that summer as eye-opening.

I now understand all corners of PMI,” he said. He particularly appreciated connecting with people at headquarters whom he only knew through conference calls and emails. “It is easier to do work with people with whom you have a relationship and rapport.”

Regis’ time with PMI has also included Africa-based trainings in ethics, environmental compliance, qualitative methods research, measurement and evaluation, and financial management.

As Regis' supervisor and team member, my professional development goal for him is to have the comprehensive understanding, skills and experience to manage the PMI Zim portfolio on his own, should the need arise,” said Christie. “We're trying to provide him with those opportunities. Resident Advisors come and go, but Regis will likely be there longer term. Regis is the anchor, the institutional memory.

Always looking to improve, Regis has started working on a doctorate of philosophy in public health from Africa University. While the doctorate is challenging in terms of time, he believes it is worth it and will prepare him for future opportunities that may arise.

I am enjoying my work and working toward seeing malaria come to an end,” he said.

When Regis is not working toward eliminating malaria in Zimbabwe, he is enjoying time with his family. He and his wife like to take their two sons and two daughters out of the city for fresh air and to visit his parents and in-laws.

Today is USAID's inaugural FSN Appreciation Day. PMI currently funds in full 32 technical FSNs, like Regis, and 8 administrative FSNs across teams in 23 focus countries.

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