Taking Action

Welcoming Business Development Specialist Deborah Maufi

Aug 9, 2018
Taking Action

Dear Diary,

I have been struggling with an eating disorder for the past few years. I am afraid to eat and afraid I will gain weight. The fear is unjustified as I was never overweight. I have weighed the same since I was 12 years old, and I am currently nearing my 25th birthday. Yet, when I see my reflection, I see somebody who is much larger than reality.

I told my therapist that I thought I was fat. She said it was 'body dysmorphia'.
She explained this as a mental health condition where a person is apprehensive about their appearance and suggested I visit a nutritionist. She also told me that this condition was associated with other anxiety disorders and eating disorders. I did not understand what she was saying as I was in denial; I had a problem, to begin with. I wanted a solution without having to address my issues.

Upon visiting my nutritionist, he conducted an in-body scan and told me my body weight was dangerously low.

I disagreed with him.

I felt he was speaking about a different person than the person I saw in the mirror. I felt like the elephant in the room- both literally and figuratively. He then made the simple but revolutionary suggestion to keep a food diary to track what I was eating.

This was a clever way for my nutritionist and me to be on the same page. By recording all my meals, drinks, and snacks, I was able to see what I was eating versus what I was supposed to be eating. Keeping a meal diary was a powerful and non-invasive way for my nutritionist to walk in my shoes for a specific time and understand my eating (and thinking) habits.

No other methodology would have allowed my nutritionist to capture so much contextual and behavioural information on my eating patterns other than a daily detailed food diary.
However, by using a paper and pen, I often forgot (or intentionally did not enter my food entries) as I felt guilty reading what I had eaten or that I had eaten at all.

I also did not have the visual flexibility to express myself through using photos, videos, voice recordings, and screen recordings. The usage of multiple media sources would have allowed my nutritionist to observe my behaviour in real-time and gain a holistic view of my physical and emotional needs.

I confessed to my therapist my deliberate dishonesty in completing the physical food diary and why I had been reluctant to participate in the exercise. My therapist then suggested to my nutritionist and me to transition to a mobile diary study.

Whilst I used a physical diary (paper and pen), a mobile diary study app would have helped my nutritionist and me reach a common ground (and to be on the same page) sooner rather than later.

As a millennial, I wanted to feel like journaling was as easy as Tweeting or posting a picture on Instagram. But at the same time, I wanted to know that the information I  provided in a digital diary would be as safe and private as it would have been as my handwritten diary locked in my bedroom cabinet.

Further, a digital food diary study platform with push notifications would have served as a constant reminder to log in my food entries as I constantly check my phone. It would have also made the task of writing a food diary less momentous by transforming my journaling into micro-journaling by allowing me to enter one bite at a time rather than the whole day's worth of meals at once.

Mainly, the digital food diary could help collect the evidence that I was not the elephant in the room, but rather that the elephant in the room was my denied eating disorder.

Sincerely,
The elephant in the room

Hi, I’m Deborah, and I recently joined Teamscope in as a Business Development Specialist.

Here's my story:

A long time ago two people met and fell in love. They got married and started a beautiful family in the wonderful land of Tanzania. After 3 beautiful children, this lovely couple decided there’s still room for one more. So, on a chilly Thursday evening on the 9th of August in 1990, a beautiful woman gave birth to an adorable little girl (in case you’re wondering who I’m talking about, it’s me. I’m the adorable little girl) in a small town at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro (the highest mountain in Africa, 5,895 meters above sea level) called Moshi. 

Moshi, Tanzania (Image: Wikipedia)

Unfortunately, I didn’t spend a lot of time there when growing up since I traveled to boarding school in Kenya from a young age for my primary and secondary education. Halfway through secondary school, my parents moved to Malawi and of course, I tagged along. I spent a year there and decided to move back to Tanzania where I thought it would be cool to become a doctor (Also, I always wanted to become one). So, I did! I earned my degree in Medicine from the International Medical & Technological University in 2013 and went on to work in the Sexual and Reproductive Health sector.

In 2016, I decided to pursue a master’s degree, so I moved to Bulgaria for a year to study Business Administration. It is this combination of studies and skills that landed me in Teamscope today where I can help medical researchers better manage their patient data wherever its needed. I now live in the Netherlands and work in the Teamscope’s head office in Nijmegen.

What I do at Teamscope:

My role at Teamscope is to identify our customers’ pain and create value for them through solutions. I listen to our user’s pain points and translate their problems into feature requests for our product development team. In simpler terms, I get, grow and keep customers with the utmost respect for their needs.

Some other things you might want to know about me:

In my spare time, I like to take nature walks, enjoy some adult beverages (beer is my favorite), and sometimes I cook. Of course, I don’t limit myself to these activities, I’m spontaneous and ready to try out new things. Except skydiving. I’m acrophobic. You might see a video of me bungee jumping somewhere, I still can’t explain that. Oh, and I love cheese.

If appropriately used in the 21st century, data could save us from lots of failed interventions and enable us to provide evidence-based solutions towards tackling malaria globally. This is also part of what makes the ALMA scorecard generated by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance an essential tool for tracking malaria intervention globally.

If we are able to know the financial resources deployed to fight malaria in an endemic country and equate it to the coverage and impact, it would be easier to strengthen accountability for malaria control and also track progress in malaria elimination across the continent of Africa and beyond.

Odinaka Kingsley Obeta

West African Lead, ALMA Youth Advisory Council/Zero Malaria Champion

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Dear Digital Diary,

I realized that there is an unquestionable comfort in being misunderstood. For to be understood, one must peel off all the emotional layers and be exposed.

This requires both vulnerability and strength. I guess by using a physical diary (a paper and a pen), I never felt like what I was saying was analyzed or judged. But I also never thought I was understood.

Paper does not talk back.Using a daily digital diary has required emotional strength. It has required the need to trust and the need to provide information to be helped and understood.

Using a daily diary has needed less time and effort than a physical diary as I am prompted to interact through mobile notifications. I also no longer relay information from memory, but rather the medical or personal insights I enter are real-time behaviours and experiences.

The interaction is more organic. I also must confess this technology has allowed me to see patterns in my behaviour that I would have otherwise never noticed. I trust that the data I enter is safe as it is password protected. I also trust that I am safe because my doctor and nutritionist can view my records in real-time.

Also, with the data entered being more objective and diverse through pictures and voice recordings, my treatment plan has been better suited to my needs.

Sincerely,
No more elephants in this room

Deborah Maufi's profile picture

Deborah Maufi

I'm a business development specialist Teamscope. I enjoy helping our users do more and better clinical research. I'm a non-typical medical doctor and an above average board game fanatic.

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