Professor Moses Chimbari.

UKZN College of Health Sciences’ Dean of Research, Professor Moses Chimbari has been appointed as a co-deputy director of the Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) project, a £7million high impact and stakeholder-driven project.

The project is led by the University of Edinburgh and involves nine African countries, namely: South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Sudan. In Swahili the word tiba means “to cure infection”.

TIBA aims to harness the expertise and technical capability in biomedical and social sciences at the University of Edinburgh and in African partner countries to reduce the burden and threat of infectious diseases in Africa. It is envisaged that this can be achieved by informing and influencing health policy and strengthening health systems.

‘I am naturally excited and humbled to have been requested to serve on the TIBA Directorate,’ said Chimbari. The Project’s directorate consists of Professors Mark Woolhouse as Director and Chimbari and Francisca Mutapi as co-Deputy Directors.

The team’s overall responsibilities are to oversee the success of the project, engage in the TIBA activities, and achieve the milestones and deliverables as required by the funder.

He said this Africa-led, wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary research programme explores and draws lessons from the ways that different African health systems tackle infectious diseases.

‘TIBA will contribute towards achievement of one of the flagship programmes (African Health) articulated in the developing Strategy of the UKZN,’ said Chimbari. The project, which because of its nature, is referred to as programme will run for four years with funding from NIHR Global Health Research. ‘During this period many PhD students and Postdoctoral Fellows from participating countries will receive training at UKZN,’ he added.

Chimbari was part of the project initiative from its inception having actively participated in the writing phase leading to submission and in the review process by responding to reviewers’ queries.

When the project was approved, he was the South African component PI and responsible for co-ordination of the community engagement strategy across the nine countries.

As part of the Directorate, Chimbari will also serve on the project Steering Committee that is constituted of nine members. The Steering Committee is responsible for overseeing the £7M budget over a four year period. ‘Eighty percent of the grant money will be spent in Africa,’ declared Chimbari. In addition to these responsibilities, he is expected to deliver on the research component for South Africa and Zimbabwe.

‘I must admit that it is difficult for me to balance work and family and I do concede to the point that my work encroaches into my family space,’ he revealed. This is because of the large number of postgraduate and postdoctoral students that he is currently supervising in addition to his work as the College Dean of Research as well as his involvement in other international and African initiatives.

He also holds other positions including being Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) programme and Deputy President of the International Association for Ecology and Health (IAEH). Chimbari is also a Board Member of the Biomedical Research and Training Institute (BRTI).

Chimbari is motivated by seeing other people, especially the youth, succeeding partly because of his contribution to their research. ‘The positive feedback I get from those that I assist is most rewarding and gives me the drive to do more. In my 27 years research career, I have developed great networks that provide me with many opportunities,’ he said.

‘My personal motto is simply “Nothing is impossible with Moses”. I believe there is always a way of solving problems, no matter how big and complex they may be,’ he added.

Words by: Nombuso Dlamini