CIDRZ Celebrates Chawama Level 1 Hospital Refurbished Laboratory

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24th September was an important day for CIDRZ as we celebrated the achievement of handing over the refurbished Chawama laboratory infrastructure to the government of Zambia at a colourful event attended by key Ministry and partner VIPs.

The funding for the refurbished lab was generously provided by the US government through the PEPFAR/CDC transition to local ownership HIV Integration to Local Ownership (HILO) project.

The lab is now one of the largest in the district and able to perform all required testing for new anti-retroviral (ART) program clients on-site rather than transporting specimens to another lab incurring delays in clinicians receiving important test results and clients receiving the ART care they require. CIDRZ Lab Technical Mentors will continue to assist with training and systems development until all lab personnel have the requisite skills and a steady supply of reagents so that they may take over the testing for all clients enrolled in the HIV Care and Treatment program at Chawama.

Speeches were delivered by the District Medical Officer Dr Gideon Zulu, CIDRZ CEO Dr Charles Holmes, CDC Country Director Dr Jim McAuley, and Provincial Clinical Care Specialist Dr Wajirovya Chilambo, all followed by a vote of thanks by the Chawama Nursing Officer in charge.

There was drumming, there was dancing, speeches, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a  tour of the refurbished lab.

CIDRZ Lab Hosts Ministry of Health Director of Disease Surveillance, Control and Research

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Last Friday, 18th September, CIDRZ was honoured to host a visit from the Ministry of Health Director of Disease Surveillance, Control and Research, Dr Elizabeth Chizema. Dr Chizema and MOH Senior Research Associates, Mwiche Siame and Doris Osei Afriyie, met with CEO Dr Charles Holmes, Dr Roma Chilengi, Dr Carolyn Bolton, Obert Kachuwaire  and other key CIDRZ research and science staff as they toured the CIDRZ Central Lab in Kalingalinga and the Chainda South Clinic in Kalikiliki.The CIDRZ Central Lab tour was given by Lab Managers Mabvuto Phiri and Kaunda Kaunda, and the Chainda South Microlab tour was given by Michelo Simuyandi. This visit was the first time that CIDRZ hosted such key ministry representatives to the state-of-the-art CIDRZ Lab.

CIDRZ Hosts NIH and UAB

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This week CIDRZ hosted special guests from the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) Division of AIDS (DAIDS) Office of Clinical Site Oversight (OCSO) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) who came to visit our clinical research sites and meet the teams as well as pay a courtesy call to the Ministry of Health Directorate of Disease Surveillance, Control and Research.

Here they are visiting the HIV Vaccine research team at the Matero Reference research clinic From left: Helen Mulenga CIDRZ Head Pharmaceutical Services, Manizhe Payton OCSO Director, Mary Kirker Director NIH Grants Management Program, Dr Carolyn Bolton CIDRZ Chief Medical Officer, Hope Mwanyungwi CIDRZ Head Research Operations, Fatima Ravat OCSO Project Officer of the Alabama Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) and Clinical Research Sites (CRSs), Agnes Nondo, CIDRZ Study Coordinator, Christine Namakobo CIDRZ Senior Research Nurse, Dr Mwangelwa Mubiana-Mbewe, CIDRZ Director Paediatric HIV and PMTCT, and Kim Cooper Grants Management Specialist, Alabama CTU and CRSs.

CIDRZ presents at 9th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health

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Clement Moonga, Programme Manager for our European Union-funded Zambian Prisons Health Systems Strengthening (ZaPHSS) project, made two presentations at the 9th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health in Basel, Switzerland which took place under the theme: Driving the Best Science to Meet Global Health Challenges.

The abstracts presented reflected qualitative work done with CIDRZ and Zambian Prisons Services colleagues to better understand structural factors that influence the health status of incarcerated persons in Zambia:

‘Prison Food Provisions, Family Support and Vulnerability to Health Risks in Zambia’

‘Structural Drivers of Inequality in the Zambian Prison Health System’

Key note speaker at the conference was the Zambian Minister of Gender, Professor Nkandu Luo, who spoke about Health Challenges in Africa. Honourable Minister Professor Luo was representing the Zambian Coalition of African Parliamentarians against HIV/AIDS (CAPAH).

The European-Union, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Home Affairs and CIDRZ recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding and officially launched the Zambian Prison Health Systems Strengthening Framework.

CIDRZ Contributes to Formative Research about HIV self-testing in Zambia

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Photo L to R: Annette Brown, Deputy Director International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), Jenala Chipungu, Roma Chilengi, and Arianna Zanolini of CIDRZ

On 12th August CIDRZ researchers Arianna Zanolini, Jenala Chipungu and Roma Chilengi disseminated results of the Phase 1 formative research study assessing the feasibility and acceptability of oral HIV self-testing in Zambia to the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health and other key stakeholders.

Given the low uptake of HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) services, Zambia is considering adopting the use of HIV self-testing (HIVST) to increase HIV status awareness, especially among those difficult to reach through traditional testing models. Formative research work was required before developing policies and considering rolling out the technology.

The goal of this mixed methods survey and qualitative study was to investigate whether self-testing would be an acceptable and effective innovation for HCT in Zambia and to provide guidance on optimal ways to implement self-testing.

The study funded by 3ie – International Initiative for Impact Evaluation was conducted in
17 areas within Lusaka Province and a total of 1,617 participants, aged between 16 and 49 years of age took part in either a household survey, focus group discussion or
key informant interview
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The study found that HIV self-testing was feasible and acceptable and has the potential to reach non-testers, but that further formative research needs to be done to better understand important issues such as related counselling needs; distribution location and cost; linkages to care; effective method to inform illiterate or physically-challenged populations how to perform the test and interpret results; and whether the test roll-out should only be targeted on key populations.  Further research work on the topic is planned.

CIDRZ Welcomes 2015-16 HealthCorps Fellows

 

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Photo  Some of our 2015-16 CIDRZ HealthCorps Fellows! From L to R: Lisa Chileshe, Benjamin Usadi, Katayi Kazimbaya-Mwila, Emilie Efronsom, Njinga Kankinza, Kalo Musukuma, and Dr Roma Chilengi CIDRZ Chief Scientific Officer.

Introducing the 2015-16 CIDRZ HealthCorps Fellows

In 2004, CIDRZ initiated a public health fellowship programme, HIVCorps, to provide future Zambian and international public health leaders exposure to public health-related programme implementation in the Zambian setting. Fellows honed their project management skills as they provided logistical support to designated CIDRZ HIV-related service projects. Entrance to the fellowship  is competitive and since inception over 104 fellows have taken part and gone on to progress in their careers, both locally and abroad.

In 2014 we changed the fellowship name to HEALTHCorps to better reflect our expanding and updated programme focus – mitigating HIV/AIDS still remains a prominent feature of our work – but we also work to improve overall health systems to better deliver on our vision of “A Zambia and a region in which all people have access to quality healthcare and enjoy the best possible health, including a life free of AIDS.”

This year we received 244 competitive applications, and after careful review have chosen 8 fellows, 1 junior fellow and 1 volunteer. Each will be attached to a designated project and have clear deliverables to accomplish. Six of the successful candidates are Zambian, 3 are from the USA and one from Australia.

Katayi Kazimbaya-Mwila MSc, BSc
Katayi has a Masters degree in Biochemistry from Rhodes University, South Africa and she will contribute her efforts to the Bill & Melinda Gates-funded Rotavirus Vaccine Effectiveness study, ROVAS.

Chishimba Katema BSc, MSc
Chishimba has a Masters degree in Molecular Biology from  Kazan State University, Russian Federation. He will be attached to the ROVAS study as a volunteer.

Njinga Kankinza MSc, BSc
Njinga has a Masters degree in Clinical Linguistics from Potsdam University, Germany and she will contribute her efforts to the Bill & Melinda Gates-funded Community ART study.

Emilie Efronson MPH, BA
Emilie has a Masters of Public Health degree in Global Health from Boston University, USA. She will also be attached to the Community ART Study.

Natasha Laban BSc
Natasha has a Bachelors degree in  Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Zambia and she will contribute efforts to the PEPFAR/CDC-funded HIV Integration Local Ownership (HILO) project.

Kalo Musukuma BSc
Kalo has a Bachelors degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics and is studying for her Masters degree in the same at the University of Zambia. She will contribute her efforts to the Bill & Melinda Gates-funded Better Information for Health in Zambia study.

Kelsi Mowreader BS
Kelsi has a Bachelors Degree in Public Health from Oregon State University and is studying for a Masters of Public Health in Global Heath. She will also be attached to the BetterInfo Study.

Lisa Chileshe BA
Lisa has a Bachelors degree in Psychology, Health Sciences, and Counseling from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa. Lisa joins as a Junior Fellow and she will be contributing efforts to the Better Health Outcomes Through and Mentorship (BHOMA) project.

Benjamin Usadi MPH, BA
Benjamin has a Masters degree in Epidemiology/Biostatistics from the University of California, Berkeley, will be attached to the CIDRZ Analysis Unit.

Helene  Smith MPH, BA
Helene has a Masters of Public Health degree in International Public Health from the University of Sydney, Australia. She will be attached to the TB Department and will contribute efforts to the Treatment as Prevention study.

 

 

Dr Akwi Asombang, Assistant Professor of Medicine University of Missouri presents at CIDRZ Research Rounds

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Dr Akwi Asombang, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology/Hepatology at the University of Missouri – Columbia School of Medicine in the U.S. presented her research results at the CIDRZ Research meeting on 27th August.

Dr Asombang is a recipient of an American College of Gastroenterology International training grant and has completed research at the Cancer Diseases Hospital evaluating trends of pancreatic and colorectal cancer. She presented a talk entitled “Descriptive analysis and trends of pancreatic and colorectal cancer at the Cancer Diseases Hospital Zambia”.

Dr Asombang  completed a combined Internal Medicine – Paediatric Residency at Saint Louis University School of Medicine/Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital and an Adult Gastroenterology/Hepatology Fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis. She also has an Masters of Public Health degree earned from Saint Louis University School of Public Health and is a Fogarty Fellow alumni who completed her gastric cancer research at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka in 2012.

CIDRZ takes part in Urban Mothers Walk to Support Rural Mothers

CIDRZ takes part in Urban Mothers Walk to Support Rural Mothers

Above, CIDRZ Deputy CEO Dr Izukanji Sikazwe standing beside Royal Highness Chieftainess Shimukunami.

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On Saturday 15th August, members of CIDRZ staff took part in the Urban Mothers Walk to support the Zambia Alliance for Maternal Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH Alliance) a coalition of civil society organisations that have come together to conduct joint advocacy activities aimed at contributing to the reduction of the unacceptably high rates of maternal, newborn, and child mortality and morbidity in Zambia. The event took place under the Theme: Saving Mothers, Saving Children – Now!

Guest speakers included Honourable Minister of Community Development Mother and Child Health Emerine Kabanshi and Permanent Secretary Professor Elwyn Chomba, among others. The event was a 7 km walk to represent the minimal distance that many rural women have to walk to receive health services.

CIDRZ, Zambart and Aeras Sensitise Media on TB Vaccine Research

 TB Researchers from CIDRZ and Zambart join Aeras to Sensitise Local Media about TB Vaccine Research

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This week CIDRZ and collaborator and research partner, Zambart, sensitised local media practitioners about the need for a preventative Tuberculosis (TB) vaccine and the ongoing Phase 2b TB-18 clinical research trial that is taking place at the CIDRZ research clinic in Kalingalinga and the Zambart research clinic in Kanyama. Twenty Lusaka-based print, radio and TV journalists took part in the event that was sponsored by Aeras. Dr Nathan Kapata, Ministry of Health TB and Leprosy Control Programs Manager, was a key presenter as he reviewed the State of TB in Zambia. Research Investigators from both institutions made presentations about past TB research in Zambia and how they have contributed to the benefit of public health in the country and the current clinical trial, as well as answering journalists questions. CIDRZ routinely engages media as they are a key and valued stakeholder in explaining health programmes and research in the country. Pictured below, CIDRZ TB Director  Dr Monde Muyoyeta explaining the TB-018 Preventive TB Vaccine research trial to Enock Ngoma, Miriam Zimba and other journalists.

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CIDRZ Facilitates 2nd Annual Pharmacy Research Conference

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CEO Holmes with members of the CIDRZ Pharmaceutical Services Department

CIDRZ Facilitates 2nd Annual Pharmacy Research Conference in Lusaka

The CIDRZ Pharmaceutical Services Department, the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization joined together to hold a conference for private and government Lusaka-based pharmacists under the theme “Strengthening the Role of Pharmacy in Improving Quality Health Services Through Research.” The event is emphasizing the important role that Pharmacists play in health services delivery and the need for pharmacists to engage in and contribute to high-quality research. Many research abstracts will be presented at the 2-day  event.

“I am proud to learn that pharmacists are embracing the challenge of research right here in Zambia,” Honourable Minister of Health Dr Joseph Kasonde said about the conference.

Dr Kasonde encouraged more pharmacists to rise to the challenge of creating breakthroughs and discovering new evidence that would positively impact on healthcare practice and improve patient outcomes.
He encouraged pharmacists to play an active role in aligning their practices with the vision of the Ministry, Millennium Development Goals and towards improving quality, accessibility and affordability of health care.

CIDRZ CEO Dr Charles Holmes delivered opening remarks at the event and said that “Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians are a respected and trusted healthcare cadre, and can do much to contribute to improved healthcare practice in Zambia through engaging in research related to their field of expertise.

There are still many unanswered questions in healthcare service and delivery – particularly relating to pharmaceutical research – that have not yet been explored. Pharmacists conducting high-quality, ethical research that conforms to international research conduct requirements, and importantly the protections of human subject standards, will provide evidence-based answers that can inform decisions about how to improve health care systems and practice and ultimately save Zambian lives. The role of the Pharmacy profession is very important in this endeavour and it is very gratifying to know that our CIDRZ Pharmacists are helping to drive this Pharmacy research agenda by collaborating with the Ministry of Health in holding this important and unique conference.