20 Years in Tanzania

When IMA World Health was founded in 1960, its work focused solely on distributing medicines and medical supplies to our Member organizations’ projects around the world. In 1994–1995, IMA made a game-changing move: stepping out of a supportive role and launching a field project of its own to target the neglected tropical disease onchocerciasis, or River Blindness, in Tanzania. Funded by 10 IMA member organizations who believed in IMA’s potential to make a larger impact, the River Blindness Project became the turning point in IMA’s history. In 1997, IMA opened its first field office in Dar es Salaam, and more health projects in Tanzania and other countries soon followed.

An early photo from IMA’s first field project, targeting River Blindness in Tanzania.

Today, IMA is a leader in the effort to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases around the world.

This year, IMA celebrated the 20th anniversary of its work in Tanzania with a February reception at the Kilimanjaro Hyatt Hotel in Dar es Salaam. The Permanent Secretary of the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Donald Mmbando, was the guest of honor and provided the opening remarks. Partners, donors, and IMA staff were also present to mark the occasion, celebrate the lives saved and improved over the past 20 years, and discuss the key approaches that will guide IMA’s work to ensure health, healing and well-being for all for the next 20 years, both in Tanzania and beyond.

OUR FIRST YEAR IN INDONESIA

In 2014, IMA launched a project to develop and implement the National Behavior Change Campaign to Reduce Childhood Stunting in Indonesia, which led to opening IMA’s first field office in Asia. Funded by the Millennium Challenge Account-Indonesia (MCA-I), the project is designed to use a combination of national mass media, local media and interpersonal communications approaches to change behaviors and practices that contribute to malnutrition and childhood stunting.

This year, IMA completed the project’s formative research phase in collaboration with the University of Indonesia, with the goal of identifying key contributors to malnutrition as well as the most effective behavior change and communications approaches. With this foundational knowledge in place, IMA will launch a two-year campaign to influence behavior and practices of parents, caregivers, and health workers to help children grow up healthy and strong.