A native of Harare, Zimbabwe, Duane Madziva was prodded to dream big by applying to Yale College by an advisor in the Education Matters program, formerly called the United States Achievers Program. The program is a pipeline, helping students from low resource nations access higher education around the world. At Yale College, Duane was immersed in biomedical engineering with a focus on biomolecular engineering. He chose to pursue Yale’s 5-year BA/BS-MPH joint degree program because he wants to pursue work in healthcare.
After a gap year in which he interned with Médecin Sans Frontière (MSF) Epicenter, one of MSF’s research units based in Cameroon, and for the health analytics firm, Aetion, Duane is now in his fifth year of studies in the Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health.
Engineering and epidemiology have come together through Duane’s work as a fellow for the Sustainable Health Initiative (SHI), an entrepreneurial program offered through the Yale Institute of Global Health in India. Being involved in the health care entrepreneurial landscape is inspiring, says Duane, and it is helping to shape his future directions in addressing the hidden burden of chronic diseases in low-resource countries. His work for SHI allows a bird’s eye view of start-up development and which endeavors succeed, which don’t and why. “Many entrepreneurs don’t understand what is happening on the ground to make the device relevant. How impactful can a device be if it is not culturally relevant?” asks Duane.
From his time with MSF in Africa, Duane learned just how startling the prevalence of chronic disease burden is in lower income countries. In Cameroon, for instance, over 40 percent of the urban population has hypertension. This is not unusual, he says. “The chronic disease burden is higher than infectious disease burden, but low resource countries are still developing their screening, diagnostic and surveillance infrastructure.”
Duane is motivated to look for innovative solutions for chronic diseases that are sustainable investments to local healthcare infrastructures that can better diagnose, treat and prevent chronic diseases. Rather than disease specific technical devices popular in the entrepreneurial market today, he is interested in finding better connections between tech and risk factors for disease.