The HUGS team is deeply shocked and saddened by the very sudden passing of Mr Lazarus Tito Aliel Juziwelo, aged just 52, on the 26th October 2022. His loss will be keenly felt throughout sub-Saharan Africa, not only by the NTD community itself but also by many frontline community health workers in Malawi.
From 2014, Lazarus worked tirelessly for the Ministry of Health, Malawi, first as Assistant Programme Manager to Mr Samuel Jemu, National Schistosomiasis and Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis Control Programme Manager. Then, upon Sam’s retirement, he assumed this influential role from 2017. Over the years, Lazarus played a keystone role with the SCI Foundation, UK in the co-ordinated delivery and frontline access plan of praziquantel and albendazole to many millions of Malawian children and adults. In 2019 alone, his team was responsible for the distribution of 4.7M anthelmintic treatments which went some way to alleviate the suffering of those with parasitic worms.
With a MSc in Public Health gained in 2016 from the prestigious Makerere University, Uganda Lazarus fostered the noble of vision of improving primary health care. His technical skill’s set and emphasis was upon disaster management and preparedness planning. This vision served him very well during the COVID epidemic, for he was one of the first national control programme managers to reinstate delivery of medicines, pivoting from school-based delivery systems towards community-based access platforms. This impressive feat ably demonstrated his quickness of mind, abilities to manage complex structures and adroitly navigate between ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ health system programming. His underlying motivation was simply to do good for others.
Lazarus adeptly bridged the gap between public health practitioners and applied health researchers, being a co-author in several seminal publications. He often teamed up with HUGS colleagues Dr Janelisa Musaya, Dr Seke Kayuni and Mr Peter Makaula, being always interested in their ideas and supportive of their activities. He helped to put many of their key findings, as well as those of others, quickly on the public health agenda for national discussions. Without Lazarus’s help, the predicament of those with female and male genital schistosomiasis would continue to languish in the national shadows of neglect.
From my own perspective and speaking with him just three months ago in Nsanje, he was excited and passionate about undertaking a PhD in public health. I can only speculate about the future national benefits he would have achieved had he been given the time to do so. Indeed, this is a significant personal and academic loss to the global schistosomiasis community.
We offer our condolences onto his wife Glyceria and their family. Whilst HUGS laments his passing, we look forward to promoting his honour in our achievements yet to come, arising from his generously given help.