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Zambart Sensitizes Community-based Organisations on Clinical Trials and Social Research

The HPTN 071/ PopART community engagement team in collaboration with other Zambart units conducted a two-day research literacy workshop for civil society and community-based organisations at Zambart House from 2-3 September, 2015.

The purpose of the CPP workshop was to orient the members about research, and in particular clinical trials and social research. The workshop was aimed at raising awareness among civil society and community-based advocacy organisations working in HIV prevention and treatment on the importance of research in generating evidence for advocacy and influencing policy.

The workshop also emphasised the importance of using a systematic approach to data collection and analysis for research findings to be credible.

As a health research organisation, Zambart has established the Community Partners Platform (CPP), a vehicle through which it engages with various civil society stakeholders and advocacy groups in the research activities the organisation undertakes.

CPP comprises 7 main organisations representing People Living with HIV such as the Network of Zambian People living with HIV (NZP+), Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC), Zambia Network of ARV users (ZNARVs), and International Community of Women living with HIV (ICW).

Some of the topics discussed during the workshop included the important contents of a study protocol; principles of social and clinical research; and the role of ethics and Good Clinical Practice (GCP) in ensuring that research participants are respected and data collected from them is treated with utmost confidentiality.

Musonda Simwinga, the PopART study community engagement lead said the CPP participants found the workshop useful and applicable to their work, with some expressing concern for instance, that government had not taken seriously findings of their survey on patient experiences with frequent treatment regime changes because their surveys had not been systematic.

Mr Simwinga said, the CPP members requested for more skills building activities with some expressing interest in protocol writing and capacity building in data collection and analysis, particularly the use of qualitative data analysis software, Atlas ti.

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Zambia PopART Team in Mammoth Training for Study Annual – Round 2

In April and May 2015, Zambart organised an intense re-fresher and skills-building training for the entire HPTN 071/PopART study staff cohort ahead of the start of  the second annual round of the trial.
Over 550 members of staff drawn from PopART’s intervention, population cohort, social science, data, and laboratory, administration and finance teams converged at the Fairmount Hotel in Zambia’s tourist capital Livingstone, to be prepped on how to approach various components  of the study  implementation in year two.
Staff under the two PopART sub-studies namely Case Control and Stigma studies also joined the training.
The training held in 3-phases owing to the large numbers of staff, was conducted by different study team leaders led by site Principal Investigator Dr Helen Ayles, study manger Dr Kwame Shanaube; Zambart Chief Executive Officer Dr Alwyn Mwinga, and senior management. They were joined by resource persons from HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) of USA, South Africa’s Desmond Tutu TB Centre (DTTC).
The training provided the various study groups particularly the Community HIV Care Providers (CHiPs) with knowledge on how to handle the year 2 data collection and continued offering of services to the various intervention communities. Other topics included new strategies to; adherence, initiatives to improve HIV uptake, initiatives to scale up male uptake of PopART services, linkage to care, messaging, VMMC, rapid HIV testing, Tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment.
Dr Mwinga, in her meetings with various PopART field staff urged everyone to be committed to their work and maintain high standards of discipline. She took time to meet with different study teams to discuss administrative and human resources issues.
The training was run on a tightly packed schedule in which facilitators also took the training opportunity to re-orient all teams. It was also an opportunity to review the successes and challenges from the just ended first annual round of the study. However, due to limited time to adequately training such a huge staff cohort, it was realised that additional training would be required at site-level.
At the end of the training, there was an awards presentation ceremony in different categories and a number of sites walked away with trophies. The awards were meant to motivate all PopART staff to improve their output to ensure that HOPTN 071 is a success.
Meanwhile, subsequent trainings were rolled out May through June, across all sites, to provide the CHiPs with a more practical approach in capturing data for the intervention in year 2, with a focus on migration and handling of adolescents. It also emphasized HIV, TB, STI and MMC follow-ups.
Makululu site in Kabwe, conducted a one-day training for all staff with the objective of addressing some of the gaps left by the Livingstone training. “Some of these gaps were identified as key areas in the implementation of PopART in year 2,” explained Prince Mweemba, PopART district Intervention Coordinator for Kabwe.
Mr Mweemba, said field staff needed some revision and have their skills assessed in readiness for the implementation of the intervention in year two, especially that new fields to include minors, had been added in the EDCs.