The year is 2038. A deadly tropical disease that causes large ulcers on the skin has just been eradicated in Ghana. Doesn’t that sound like a future scenario we all dream about for Africa? Well, ambitious scientists working together across the continent could bring us closer to this particular dream.

Dr. Lydia Mosi, a Future Africa member and leading microbiologist at the University of Ghana, is trying to understand how a bacterial infection called Buruli ulcer is transmitted. Little is known about the disease. Mosi says it has been largely neglected by research, and the disease’s lack of notoriety outside of Ghana makes it difficult to obtain research funding.And yet, much of what is known about it was discovered in research institutions outside of the continent, disconnected from the African communities it affects. Mosi wants to change this. “I want real time results, not only from people in the United States or Europe, but from researchers active in Africa, who know and work with local communities,” she says.

For Mosi this means working with experts from other fields, like ecologists, socio-anthropologists and disease clinicians. She explains that ecologists and anthropologists could help her understand how environmental conditions or community behaviours affect the spread of the disease, and how superstitious beliefs might result in infected people being ostracised. Another big problem is that the disease is often reported in late stages due to is painless nature, so clinicians need better diagnostics to help identify and treat disease cases much earlier.

Mosi’s vision embodies that of Future Africa: bringing transdisciplinary researchers and
communities in Africa together to solve the continent’s biggest challenges. She says that being part of Future Africa has already increased her visibility to funders, so she looks forward to offsetting soe of the steep costs of research into an infectious disease like Buruli ulcer. Mosi imagines a future where this neglected tropical disease is so well understoo that it might even be eradicated, thanks to a multidisciplinary team of African researchers.

Imagine this headline in future: “Ghana reports zero Buruli ulcer cases in 2038”. What is your #ImagineFutureAfrica headline?