1. What is your name and role in PMA2020? My name is Pierre Akilimali Zalagile. I am a medical doctor, public health practitioner and a PhD candidate at the Kinshasa School of Public Health in Nutritional Epidemiology. As IT Specialist and Field Coordinator for PMA2020/DRC, I lead the programming of Android phones, train resident enumerators and field supervisors, and also assist the principal investigators in conducting pilot studies and performing other administrative aspects of PMA2020/DRC.
2. How did you get involved with PMA2020? I started with the first round of PMA2020 in DRC in 2013. After attending a 10-day training in Ghana, organized by the Gates Institute (for the purpose of learning the structure of the survey, steps involved in data collection, and programming of android phones to use for data collection), I became fully involved with PMA2020.
3. What does your typical day look like? When I am well, which I am trying to basically be all of the time (!), my schedule is: Get up usually around 4:00 a.m. to revise class materials or other readings for a few hours. After I have coffee, I drive to work and around noon, eat a piece of cheese and fruit, usually oranges or bananas. At 4:00 p.m. I come home, eat dinner (we've been trying to eat less meat lately, so it might be a grain, legume, or meat-based main with a large salad), then go to bed around 10 p.m. to get ready for another day ahead!
4. What skills do you most frequently employ in your work with PMA2020? Computer and technical literacy; flexibility, adaptability, managing multiple priorities, interpersonal abilities, working in emergency situations. In particular, during training sessions: Verbal and written communication, listening, organization, passion and patience.
5. What is your favorite thing about working with PMA2020? There are many things that I enjoy about working with PMA2020. My favorite is the transfer of knowledge and skills from Tulane University and the Johns Hopkins Gates Institute team.
6. If you could describe PMA2020 in three words, what would you say? Monitoring program performance.
7. Why do you think PMA2020 is important? We are getting very good data in a short amount of time and engaging the local population in collecting this data.
8. What is the biggest challenge you face in your work? Network connection. In DRC, the network isn't widely available everywhere, which remains a big challenge.
9. What do you like to do in your free time? I like watching music program TV, especially in Trace using Canal sat bouquet.
10. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be? Chairman of the Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates.
11. What are some valuable lessons learned from your time in PMA2020? By working in a large team like that of PMA2020, we can learn a lot from each other. Working with such a multidisciplinary team saves time and allows us to obtain high-quality results.
12. How would you encourage young students hoping to do similar work that you are doing? I would share my knowledge and skills with them that I've learned from working on PMA2020. I would also encourage them to work in teams and learn from each other. I would oversee their initial work, and then encourage them to achieve their own spot.
13. If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go? The United States.
14. What is your favorite public health topic? Research and biostatistics.
15. Where would you like to be in 10 years? I would like to still be here in my country, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
16. What are you afraid of? Regional instability and insecurity.
17.What is the most interesting thing you have learned while working with PMA2020? Using a mobile phone to collect data and learning about the measures used to check data quality.
18. If you could change one thing about anything, what would it be? If I could change one thing about myself, I would be able to speak English fluently. About the DRC: I hope for a system of good governance and updated data. About the world: reduce widespread inequality.
19. Who is your role model and why? Bill Gates because he is using his power and money to reduce inequality in the world.
20. Any last words? I would like to see the PMA2020 platform extended beyond family planning and WASH.