Zul Premji's passion has been science and its use for the benefit of his fellow citizens. From a background of abject poverty in a village in Tanzania, he rose to become a laboratory technician, a medical doctor, and finally a malaria expert and professor of pathology in a public university. In his practice he observed the clash between tradition and modernization, between "the Ipod and the mullahs." What he discovered is that more important than drugs and vaccines in combating widespread disease is the human spirit. Zul Premji tells his story in all its details---his family life, the obstacles of poverty and inability to afford school fees, the impediments of politics, bureaucracy, and the human ego.
"My working life was involved with malaria; it's a political, a social, and an economic as well as scientific disease. There is a very strong public health component of malaria that had a major influence on my life...This is a tale of seemingly impossible quests and grand objectives. It reflects the importance of hard work in one's life coupled with honesty, integrity, and an ethical character. All this might sound boring and I agree, since there were many moments when the Satan in me took over."
Zul Premji was born in Iringa, Tanzania, and attended school in two towns before obtaining his medical degree from Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam. He later took an MSc in Medical Parasitology from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a Diploma in Tropical Medicine from the Royal College of Physicians in London, and a doctorate in Infectious Diseases from Karolinska, Sweden. His specialization included clinical trials, antimalarial drug resistance and malaria case management. Over a career of more than forty years, he has held numerous academic positions in Tanzania, and has been an advisor to National Malaria Control. He now lives in Calgary, Alberta.