Highlights and Key Achievement July 12 – Sept 13

Home / Highlights and Key Achievement July 12 – Sept 13

Programme Outcomes

Publication and Dissemination of Research Results
Apart from publishing, HRCSI training fellows disseminated their dissertation research results in various national and international fora. This demonstrates the positive effect the Programme is having on the awardees and the quality of the research done.

Former HRCSI training fellowship awardee, Albert Dube, published his MSc dissertation research project paper with the international journal PLOS ONE as the first author. The paper is titled Fertility intentions of monogamous couples in Northern Malawi in the context of HIV testing and onset of ART treatment. · Six training fellowship grantees presented findings of their HRCSI funded dissertation research projects at various research dissemination fora. Titles of their research dissertation projects are included in Annex 2 of this report.

A PhD training fellowship awardee, Elizabeth Kampira made a poster presentation at the 2nd Antiviral Congress Conference held in Cambridge Massachusset USA, from 11th to 13th November 2012. The presentation was titled Investigating The Role Different mtDNA Variants Play on Peripheral Neuropathy Among Malawians on Stavudine Containing Antiretroviral Therapy. The researcher reports a significant association between ‘L02a’ with increased risk of peripheral neuropathy and ‘L2a’ with reduced risk for ‘PN’. Her findings could be useful biomarkers for selecting patients when using stavudine containing regimens in the treatment of HIV/AIDS.  According to the researcher, results of her study strengthen the case for advocating the use of
personalized medication.

An HRCSI junior research grant recipient Dr Fanuel Lampiao was awarded the 2012 AU-TWAS Young Scientists National Award. The award is organized jointly by the African Union, Third World Academy of Science and National Commission for Science and Technology. This award is given to outstanding researchers in Malawi on an annual basis. The award presentation ceremony took place at Cross Roads Hotel on 21st November 2012; the guest of hounour was the Ministry of Education Science and Technology’s Principal Secretary responsible for Higher Learning, Mrs Magareta. Dr Lampiao was given a certificate of recognition and prize money worth US$5,000.

A cumulative total of 21 students out of 37 awardees had completed their studies successfully. All of them came back to work in Malawi.

HRCSI co-funded the 16th College of Medicine Research Conference held on 27th October 2012. The co-funding towards CoM research conferences has not only encouraged the College to hold high quality research conferences on an annual basis but also provide a platform for HRCSI grantees to disseminate their research findings.

HRCSI fully funded the first Health Research Capacity Strengthening Initiative Research Dissemination Conference based on a Theme “Towards Enhancing Health Research Capacity for Better Health Outcomes for Malawi” at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe from 24 to 26th July 2013.

Institutional Grants
The programme conducted a pre-award assessment at Holy Family Nursing School in Phalombe in December 2012. The institution is one of the 6 that were recommended for funding by the MHRC. However, it is first time HRCSI is dealing with this institution.

HRCSI Internships
NCST awarded 10 internship grants. A total of 20 applications were received and all of them were eligible. Applicants were interviewed on 18 January 2013 at Cross Roads Hotel. Interns started working in March 2013.

Undergraduate Grants
HRCSI disbursed funds to 6 training institutions and held a meeting with the Director of Research and Publications for Catholic University, to discuss rolling out of the undergraduate student research grant scheme to the College. Following this meeting, the University submitted an application for an undergraduate student research grant. Pre-award assessment was already
conducted and the Programme is yet to make a final decision on the grant.

Bioethics training
Bioethics training workshops were aimed at strengthening skills of participants in health research ethics and bioethics research communication. HRCSI awarded a grant to College of Medicine, University of Malawi to conduct training sessions in bioethics.

Two sessions have since been held; the first at Grace Bandawe Conference in Blantyre from 13th to 17th of August 2012, the second at Lingadzi Inn, in Lilongwe from 29th October to 2nd November 2012 and the third Session was held in Mzuzu from 24th March 2013. Sixty four (64) participants have since been trained in these three sessions by a team of facilitators from Centre of Bioethics in Eastern and Southern Africa.


Partnerships and collaboration

The Programme participated in a meeting titled “Evidence Informed Health Policy Making:
The Effective Use of Research Results” organized by Dignitas Malawi. The meeting was held from 17th – 18th October 2012 at Hippo View Lodge in Liwonde. The workshop’s main purpose was to further develop capacity within Health Researchers in Malawi to drive the research agenda and to effectively engage policy makers in the uptake of research results. Key action points were as follows:

  • Develop at least one policy brief in line with Ministry of Health priorities;
  • conduct a capacity building event on Evidence Informed Health Policymaking;
  • Develop a Knowledge Translation Platform Website; and to facilitate establishment of a KTP secretariat at MoH.

The HRCSI Programme Manager and the MoH Chief Statistician participated in a group study tour of programmes run by

  • The Research for Health Africa (a joint initiative between the NEPAD Agency and COHRED)
  • Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology and
  • Tanzania National Institute for Medical Research. The MoH Chief Statistician was supported by HRCSI.

The aim of the tour was to discuss challenges faced in system development and to learn from the Tanzania experience. The group study tour was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 5-9 November 2012. Also in attendance were 11participants from other African countries.

A visit by the Wellcome Trust African-Region Coordinator

Dr Jane Kengeya the newly appointed Wellcome Trust Special Advisor for Africa, who is based in Uganda, visited HRCSI and held meetings with management and staff from 17th to 19th December 10 2012. HRCSI facilitated two further meetings with an NCST Board Member, Prof. Kanyama and the Secretary for Health Dr C. Mwansambo.
Health research career development among former training fellowship grantees
Eighty six (86%) of former training fellowship grantees have moved to health research related careers. During this period, Clement Khalika Banda, who was initially not working in the health sector, was employed to work as a monitoring and evaluation Research Manager by the Clinton Health Access Initiative; Emmanuel Souza, who was also not in the health sector is now working as a demography lecturer at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi. Collins Zamawe joined Parent and Child Health Initiative (PACHI) to work as a Research Coordinator and Wezi Lora who was working in the education sector joined the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust as a Research Scientist.

James Chirombo has been engaged as a health statistician for the Ministry of Health. During the reporting period, he disseminated results of his dissertation research project at the East African Community Annual Health & Scientific Conference dubbed Environment and Health in Africa: Africa Climate and vector-borne diseases Symposium held on 29 March 2013. Just like most of the HRCSI alumni James indicates that the HRCSI grant has motivated him to go for a health research career. This is
reflected in the following quote from James:
“The MSc grant has really opened up opportunities for me to do research. I hope I can proceed to PhD level soon. I am so grateful to HRCSI for the grant”

Institutional and Individual Capacity enhanced through HRCSI grants

Capacity strengthened through training fellowship grant scheme 

Key research institutions in Malawi have benefited from the training fellowship grant scheme by employing HRCSI alumni or retaining staff trained under HRCSI scholarships. Major beneficiaries of this research capacity strengthening are the Ministry of Health and the University of Malawi.
Non-governmental research institutions also benefitted from the HRCSI training fellowship grant scheme. NGOs employed 5 HRCSI alumni by the end of the reporting period for example, PACHI recruited 2 HRCSI alumni.

Capacity strengthened through research grant scheme
Research capacity at Zomba Central Hospital, one of the referral hospitals in the Country, has been enhanced through implementation of a multidisciplinary research project funded by HRCSI. Similarly, Capacity has been enhanced for Ntcheu District Office to manage a health research grant. The hospital’s capacity to conduct operations research has been enhanced. District health office and hospital staff members have been exposed to planning and implementation of a large scale
operations research project.
Capacity of individuals enhanced through research grants
Some of the grantees have earned international recognition by AU TWAS young scientist of the year award and their publications have contributed to their career by being promoted to the position of Associate Professor.

Fourth (4th) Request for Applications Awards
The Call was dominated by Fellowships and PhD bursary while institutional and Internships applications were less dominant