Pedro Pagalday in front of the Royal Palace of Phnom Penh. Stationed in Cambodia, his work for the Clinton Foundation involves a great deal of travelling in the Southeast Asian region.

Pedro's goal is to eliminate malaria

Pedro Pagalday landed a dream job. After finishing his studies in Biomedical Engineering at Chalmers he now works for the Clinton Health Access Initiative. He is leading a project about a disease surveillance system to eradicate malaria in Southeast Asia.

​Congratulations on your new job at the Clinton Foundation! What is your work about?
The Clinton Health Access Initiative supports governments to scale up effective interventions for prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and surveillance of diseases as malaria. The goal is to sustainably reduce the number of malaria-related illnesses and deaths worldwide, and accelerate towards malaria elimination in the long term.
My role is to help governmental programs in Lao, Myanmar/Burma, Cambodia, and Vietnam improve how they collect and analyze data to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their efforts to eliminate the disease. It is about building in-country capacity related to the use of information technology in terms of creating, modifying and maintaining surveillance platforms. I work with technology companies, academic partners, the World Health Organization WHO, and other non-governmental organizations to ensure that the malaria programs have the tools required to monitor and evaluate progress towards elimination.

What do you hope to achieve?
I hope to be able to successfully implement surveillance systems in these four countries and make sure it helps to reduce malaria cases in the short term and eliminates the disease in the long term. To do that, I would like to create a smooth and simple transition to the new systems, create a system that is simple to use, and has acceptance among all the users involved. Furthermore, I would like the system to be sustainable so governments and other partners will use it in the future and create a system that could easily scale-up to be used in other public health challenges.

What are the main challenges you expect to be confronted to?
The main challenge I expect is behavioral change, the small "chaos" created when implementing IT systems for users with low IT literacy. This will require a very good understanding of the context. Another important challenge will be to work with many different partners and make sure the systems satisfies everybody's needs. And of course, there are always cultural challenges.

In what ways do you think that your studies in Biomedical Engineering at Chalmers have made you prepared for this mission?
In my opinion, the most important was the wide range of specializations I could choose within the master at Chalmers and the high quality of innovative research that the department is doing. That environment allowed me to specialize in a very specific field and get support and learn from great professionals, like Professor Bengt-Arne Sjöqvist, Ruben Buendía, and Ants Silberberg, that were able to mentor me professionally and personally. Also, the international environment in the classroom and campus where you end up with friends from all over the world and indirectly make you ready to work internationally. And of course, how the professors include guest lecturers from the industry that allow us to know and be prepared for the challenges we will face in our working lives.

What are your plans for the future?
To be honest, I landed a dream job for me. What I want in the short term is to become a better professional, especially when it comes to creating behavioral change through technology on an international scale. Professionally, I want to keep working in this kind of projects and see that my work is helping other people. It´s also nice to keep traveling and seeing the world. 
 



Read about Pedro´s master’s thesis:

Student project aim to improve maternal health care in Ghana

Read more about the Clinton Health Access Initiative

Published: Tue 05 Sep 2017.