Salama, I’m Santino Andry. I study entomology at the University of Antananarivo, though I am currently locked down at home in the COVID-19 pandemic. Madagascar is now facing a surge of cases and deaths beyond that seen in 2020. This time is hard for everyone because COVID causes both disease and economic hardship. Restrictions and lockdowns are hurting for all of us because we are deprived of liberty but those are the best tools we have to slow the spread of COVID-19 before vaccines make it to Madagascar. We have to stand together. Protect yourself and protect people around you by wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, and social distancing. According to Malagasy saying, lahy tokana ny aina: we only have one life.
Before the pandemic, I used to travel with Ekipa Fanihy to catch bats every month for our project. I met members of Ekipa Fanihy for the first time in January 2019 during the annual workshop for learning about models (E2M2) and joined the team as a volunteer and then a graduate student. This Ekipa means a lot to me because the members always show solidarity. Besides sharing scientific knowledge, the Ekipa also shares their cares. These days, we do this every week on zoom.
My research topic on the team is about the ectoparasites of the fruit bats. I decided to learn about ectoparasites because they may be vectors of the bat pathogens that cause zoonosis. So it is essential to figure out their biology and ecology in order to understand the mechanism of potential zoonosis. Also, as an entomologist, I really love to work on tiny animals because they interact with us every day and have an important role in both ecosystem ecology services and public health.
I hope things get better soon.
Visit covid19mg.org to learn more about COVID-19 in Madagascar.