Fatou Jaiteh started working as a Social Scientist within the Disease, Control and Elimination Theme of the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia in April 2015. With a background in biomedical science, public health, international development and medical anthropology her work involves conducting mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) research as part of transdisciplinary projects focused on malaria.
Specifically, she has worked on a 3-year EU-funded project (COSMIC), a community-based intervention for malaria control in pregnancy involving the screening and treatment of malaria in pregnant women in The Gambia, Burkina Faso and Benin. Her role in the trial has been exploring perceptions of malaria in pregnancy and their influence on adherence to treatment in rural Gambia. She has recently published her results of this study which show that women in rural Gambia have good biomedical knowledge of malaria, but adherence to anti-malarial treatment was perceived to be low. Pregnant women discontinued the provided anti malarial treatment after one or two days mainly due to non-recognition of symptoms, perceived ineffectiveness, perceived risks of medication and advice received from their mother-in-law.
As the 2016 recipient of the ITM sandwich PhD scholarship, she is currently pursuing a 4 year PhD in medical anthropology through the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium, MRCG andthe University of Amsterdam. The PhD work focuses onunderstanding illness perceptions towards asymptomatic malaria and adherence to targeted mass drug administration (MDA) within the context of malaria elimination in The Gambia. She points out that “Understanding the human factor in medical research is crucial for the appropriate delivery of interventions which best addresses the needs of the targeted communities”.
After a few years of working in the Unit, Fatou has shown her hard work and inquisitive mind and has moved forward to conduct her PhD in this important are of research. It is recognized that the Unit needs to strengthen Social Science. PhD students working in the field with co-supervision with external collaborators is the way forward for this to happen.