Makerere University together with the development organization CPAR Uganda are part of the five East African institutions in consortium with the University of St. Andrews that have been awarded 400, 000 Euros to fight tuberculosis.
The funding by the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) was extended to “Twende” project which works to empower nations’ diagnostic effort” in Tuberculosis. Makerere University will work with the lead consortium in the project, the University of St Andrews in UK.
Twende is a Swahili word meaning “let us move forward”. The project aims to understand and overcome the barriers to the implementation of better tuberculosis diagnosis.
“The project is a study that will research the barriers and opportunities of accelerating the uptake of successful tuberculosis diagnostics, ” says CPAR Uganda’s managing director, also the social scientist on the project. She added, “In essence, the project will explore questions of how research innovations can quickly and sustainably be translated into policy and practice – going beyond the laboratories.”
Tuberculosis is a chronic chest infection that kills nearly 2 million people worldwide every year. In a resource poor environment, diagnosis is difficult and it takes many months to get results back. New diagnostics are being developed but few have been implemented yet in the areas where people need them the most.
Twende will create a platform to translate research innovations into policy and practice. It will focus on the three East African countries of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, who are increasingly working together to solve their health problems.
Ms Owaraga says, “In the TWENDE Project, CPAR Uganda is in consortium with the University of St. Andrews (United Kingdom), Makerere University Kampala (Uganda), Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute (Tanzania), National Institute for Medical Research – Mbeya Medical Research Centre (Tanzania), Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kenya) and the East African Health Commission of the East African Community. “
The study is being led by Dr Wilber Sabiiti and Professor Stephen Gillespie at the University of St Andrews, along with partners in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. They will work closely with the East African Health Research Commission (EAHRC) and national TB control programmes of each partner country.
Professor Gillespie said: “Twende gives us a great new opportunity to work with our African partners to explore and overcome the barriers that prevent implementation of promising clinical developments.”
Dr Sabiiti said: “Africa is moving forward and Twende is here to support this move by creating a platform that unlocks barriers and increases access to healthcare innovations by people who most need it.”
Twende will evaluate the extent of the implementation of two WHO approved molecular diagnostics and explore how to implement the rapid Mycobacterial Treatment Response Assay (MYTRA) developed by the University of St Andrews.
It will also assess the benefits of these methods to the health care system and gauge the attitude of health care staff and administrators to the funding of these tests, seek both local and international avenues to unravel the impediments to a wider uptake of effective TB diagnostics and engage policy makers to accelerate the uptake of research innovations.
The impact of this study is expected to be far-reaching, with findings applicable not only to TB but to the entire health care system.