Notes from the classroom: A look ahead at my upcoming ghdLAB trip to Mozambique

Dateline: mid-March 2012
Location: MIT Sloan
By: Deborah Hsieh

Hola! The days are counting down until we arrive in Mozambique!

Where do I fit if I care about global health, but don’t have medical training?

–          In class, one of the standout moments was hearing from Bill Rodriguez. On one hand, he acknowledged the need for MBA expertise in global health delivery but, on the other hand, he spoke of the primacy of medical expertise and the challenges he observed at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), where the young analysts had business but not medical knowledge.

–          While I’m passionate about improving global health outcomes, my eyes glaze over when I read medical documents and phrases like “pharmacoenhancer integrase inhibitor.” How can I most effectively play a part in advancing global health delivery?

What I’m anticipating

–          In this context, I’m eagerly anticipating the next two weeks in Mozambique with the VillageReach and Vidagas team. They operate at the intersection of energy, economic development and health. I’ll be looking to learn how the team prioritizes its work around outcomes in each of those areas and where an MBA toolkit is most useful.

New experiences

–          I’m thankful Alex Fallon, my teammate, will be leading the way, with her experiences living in Mozambique and fluent Portuguese. She’s been helping me learn basic Portuguese words—obrigada (thank you)!

Old experiences: it’s malaria season in Mozambique!

–          From my past work, I’m interested in observing how people respond to malaria. Are families using insecticide treated nets? (Sleeping under mosquito nets reminds me of the safety I felt in pillow forts I built as a kid.) What antimalarials are available in the medicine shops? Are there concerns about fake medicine?

Most importantly, I’m hoping for a generous spirit that enables me to listen and understand without rushing into judgments springing from my first-world lens.

Thinking ahead: how might natural resources transform Mozambique?

–          Energy analysts are indicating Mozambique is likely to emerge as major LNG exporter by the end of the decade. This is huge news, considering ever-rising global demand for energy and LNG’s attractiveness due to its relatively lower carbon footprint and currently low prices.

–          I’m reminded of ExxonMobil’s $15 billion investment in Papua New Guinea to build a LNG pipeline. While this investment may double the country’s national GDP, there are huge concerns around environmental impact and wealth inequality. How will Mozambique steward its natural resources in a way that protects and provides for its people? How can NGOs prepare for dramatic changes to the ecosystem and potentially partner with large MNCs?


Vilanculos, Mozambique; 2008. I wonder how Vilanculos has changed since then!


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