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Third Cohort of Health Research Training Program Fellows Selected in Swaziland

July 23, 2015

Eight fellows have been selected to participate in the third round of the Swaziland Health Research Training Program (HRTP). Fellows, who are already employed at governmental and educational institutions, will receive didactic training and mentorship in research implementation.

The Health Research Training Program, which launched in 2013, was established by the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland’s Ministry of Health (MOH) and ICAP, with support from the CDC through PEPFAR. The program aims to broaden the skills of Swaziland’s mid-career public health professionals from government and partner institutions by equipping them with practical skills in protocol development, research implementation and monitoring, good clinical practice, data analysis, and scientific writing. Fellows also engage in skills building activities with mentors who have significant experience in research methods and implementation.

As Swaziland continues to make strides in HIV care and treatment, the interest in collaborative research projects such as HRTP has grown. This year’s cohort was selected from a competitive field and represents only 19 percent of all applicants. The fellows, whose individual research interests range from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases, laboratory methods and environmental health will participate in ongoing research activities, develop new study protocols, and attend various activities aimed at developing their research skills.

“This is an exciting time for research capacity building in Swaziland,” said Dr. Harriet Nuwagaba-Biribonwoha, director of research at ICAP. “The new funding will enable fellows to continue engaging in activities that are central to the strengthening of health systems in Swaziland.”

ICAP has supported the scale-up of comprehensive HIV prevention, care and treatment in Swaziland since 2005, working with the MOH to develop a number of in-country initiatives, including the Swaziland HIV Incidence Measurement Survey, the first national measurement to directly observe HIV incidence in Swaziland, and in the world. As HIV care and treatment services have been scaled up in Swaziland, it has become important to garner evidence about programmatic progress and gaps, current levels of HIV prevalence and incidence in the country, and the health impact of specific interventions.

“The Health Research Training Program truly reflects the collaboration between the Ministry of Health, ICAP, and the CDC. It has shown how infrastructure and expertise, introduced during research implementation, can be leveraged to create research capacity among Swazis,” said Madam Rejoice Nkambale, deputy director of public health for the ministry of health in Swaziland. “The result is stronger local research systems and capabilities, which leave the country in a better position to meaningfully engage in research.”

We congratulate the new Fellows: Makhoselive Dlamini, Muyalo Dlamini, Xolisile Dlamini, Setsabile Gulwako, Gugu Mchunu, Dumile Fikile Sibandze, Nozipho Motsa, and Nomathemba Celiwe Nxumalo.

And we are grateful for the participation of the Mentors: Tony Ao, Pido Bongomin, Charles Maibvise, Gugu Maphalala, Majorie Mavuso, Skhathele Mazibuko, Pasipamire Munyaradzi, Mduduzi Shongwe, Joyce Sibanda, and Dr. Harriet Nuwagaba-Biribonwoha.