MU-JHU established Community Advisory Boards (CABs) in order to involve the community in the Prevention of Mother to Child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) programs and obtain in-put to HIV prevention and care research. The 3 year Academic – Community Partnership (ACP) grant was awarded to MU-JHU in 2009 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
The grant engaged the academic (post doctoral students, researchers, senior scientists and policy makers from the Ministry of health and Ministry of gender, labor and social development and local community (mothers, fathers, disabled, refugees, teachers, VHTS) in HIV/AIDS, maternal and paediatric health research, development and implementation with an objective of obtaining community perspectives for health disparities, gaps and research priorities. It was the only ACP grant outside the United States of America. All other ACP grants were based at US Institutions. It was awarded under the NIH “Limited Competition for Academic – Community Partnership Conference Series” mechanism. The Principal Investigator of the award was Henry Tumwijukye and the Co – Investigator is Teopista Nakyanzi. The Program Specialist from NIH/NICHD was Dr. Regina James and the study coordinator Isabella Birungi-Byarugaba.
The ACP award offered MU-JHU yet another opportunity to further involve the academic and local communities in working together in the processes for designing the research agenda as well as raising the level of community participation and appreciation of biomedical or behavioral research and research outputs.
The ACP grant aimed at bridging the gap between the academia/scientific researchers’ and the local communities in which research is conducted. In particular, the project intended to enrich and diversify the research development processes through:
- Raising the level of community participation in and appreciation of biomedical and/or behavioral research focus, process and outputs
- Enhancing participation at all levels (community, district and national) in the setting of research agenda in pediatric and maternal HIV prevention interventions
- Increasing innovation and effectiveness in dissemination of research results and their implications; to inform and influence necessary action at all levels (national, district, community, household/family and individual.
This conference series grant had a series of meetings, seminars and workshops involving with the Academic and local partners independently and later a joint meeting to synthesis ideas on what the health disparities were. It was from these meetings that consensus was reached to obtain information about health disparities and gaps from the grass root communities. A community survey was then carried out in Mpigi and Kampala district using CBPR techniques to obtain information. As we come to the end of the grant period, we have been able to;
- Better understand the communities, their research needs, health disparities, priorities and interest areas in Research and Development
- Identify appropriate techniques for dissemination of research information to the different community stratum
- Documented the process of involving the different facets of the communities in research using CBPR techniques