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02.01.2017

CMEGBanner1The College of Social Work is offering a new field placement unlike any other, thanks to an opportunity through CoSW alumnus and former professor Dr. Carl Maas and Medical Care Development International. Starting this July, one student will have the opportunity to have an impact in the fight against malaria with the Bioko Island Malaria Control Project (BIMCP), funded by the Government of Equatorial Guinea and private funders Marathon Oil Corporation, Noble Energy, and Atlantic Methanol Production Company. Maas, who is currently the Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Marathon’s Equato-Guinean operations, will be the field instructor.

guineaThe goal of the field placement is to provide an opportunity for a master’s level social work student or mature bachelor’s level student with an interest in international development and international public health. The placement will be managed by Medical Care Development International, who runs the Bioko Island Malaria Control Program (BIMCP). BIMCP, which started in 2004, is a public-private partnership providing a multi-component intervention to control the transmission of malaria as well as offer medical and community-based behavioral change interventions to the Equato-Guinean population living on Bioko Island. To date, the BIMCP has reduced malaria transmission in the island’s youth by 75% and reduced infant mortality due to malaria by 85%. This project offers the CoSW student an opportunity to work with one of the premier malaria control programs in the world.

EG Intern 1The ideal candidate is fluent in Spanish and a MSW and/or MPH student or a BSW senior who has completed all coursework save the field practicum. The student will live in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea and work on the Annual Malaria Indicator Survey, supervising field enumerators, and data collection. Field enumerators are often local university students, so the CoSW intern will have the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and empower others. This role also provides a unique experience in international community engagement due to the setting, which includes multi-ethic and multi-national communities both in Malabo and around the entire island. Maas describes the work as an opportunity to engage “a neat kaleidoscope of communities and engaging them on their terms.”

EG Intern 2This field placement will also require a student who is up to the challenge. As Maas explains, “there’s a structure here, but it’s a very difficult setting” due to the weak state environment, which is in many ways “disadvantageous to social work practice.” It is essential that the CoSW intern is focused on completing the data collection accurately and ensuring the highest data quality—a task which often requires creativity and resourcefulness in the face of day-to-day obstacles not normally seen in the developed world.

EG Intern 3Maas, himself, was excited by the opportunity to shift gears from academia to international social work practice through a separate opportunity to develop a funding package with the aim of supporting a series of trials testing a malaria vaccine—an opportunity that “doesn’t come along every day.” In addition to the impacts that the BIMCP has accomplished, Maas has been impressed with Marathon’s long-term funding commitment of a holistic malaria control program. The opportunity to manage this type of project was a perfect match for his background in public health and social work. Before working with Marathon, Maas was not aware of Corporate Social Responsibility positions and had not considered them an option for social work practitioners. While at USC, “I taught macro social work, including social work administration, for example, running NGOs and social work programming, as well as program evaluation,” he says, “and I never realized that corporate social responsibility existed as a career option.” Hence, this placement also will provide an opportunity to learn more about Corporate Social Responsibility as it is practiced in an international setting.

EG Intern 4Maas emphasizes that the difficulty of the work is proportionate to its importance: “I like the fact that I have the opportunity to marshal resources from both industry and government and apply it to something that is demonstrably showing results in terms of health and welfare for a population greatly affected by malaria,” he says. Additionally, the BIMCP directly benefits Equatorial Guinea not only by supporting an important, central public health intervention, but also by laying the groundwork for the Equato-Guinean Malaria Vaccine Initiative (EGMVI). Through Maas’s guidance, the EGMVI is creating opportunities for national researchers to train and develop skills while conducting internationally recognized research on a cutting edge malaria vaccine with the potential to change the face of the African continent and beyond.

With apologies to Frank Sinatra, Maas suggests that “if you’re up for the challenge and you can be successful here, you can be successful anywhere. This internship is ideal for a candidate who can balance the realities of a weak state environment with the aspirations of a healthier public that seeks a brighter future.”

For more information regarding this field placement, please contact Dr. Melissa Reitmeier at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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