November 2019
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Fall greetings from the ICHAD and SMART Africa Teams. In November, our field teams have finalized the Suubi4Her study baseline report, which provides a detailed understanding of study participants. The report can be found below and on our website. The Suubi4Cancer study team is wrapping up the data collection phase and is now making preparations to implement the economic strengthening intervention component. Our Kyaterekera Project conducted the first Data and Safety Monitoring Board meeting.

ICHAD team members also presented results from our Suubi+Adherence study about the role of pediatric quality of life and physical activity on self-reported medication adherence at the American Public Health Association conference in Philadelphia and also about our work around engaging with policymakers through the SMART Africa study at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) 3rd Annual Scale-Up Hubs Meeting in Bogota, Colombia.

Finally, ICHAD and SMART Africa are recruiting candidates for the 2020 cohort of the Researcher Resilience Training Program. The full details can be found below and on our website
here.
 
Please feel free to share any news or updates you would like us to include in our upcoming newsletter
here.

Best Regards,
ICHAD and SMART Africa Teams
 

UPDATES FROM THE FIELD

 
SMART Africa-Uganda

SMART Africa-Uganda is a scale-up study in Uganda that utilizes an adapted version of the evidence-based Multiple Family Group (MFG) intervention. This intervention has 16 sessions that aim to address behavioral health challenges in children and adolescents. November was another busy month for the SMART Africa team as they completed baseline interviews for another round of 8 treatment arm schools. Completion of this exercise also marked the beginning of the MFG session delivery in these 8 schools with the first 3 sessions covered this month. The team registered 83% and 85% attendance rates for MFG session 1 and 2 respectively. The team will continue with the intervention for several weeks before taking a break for the holiday season. Congratulations to the team for your accomplishments this month!

 
SMART Africa-Kenya

SMART Africa-Kenya is a pilot study that tests the effectiveness of the Multiple Family Group (MFG) intervention amongst approximately 180 children and their caregivers in Kiambu County, Kenya. The team is currently in the field delivering MFG sessions to families in two treatment arm schools. To date, the team has delivered up to session 6 in the Community Health Worker group and up to session 7 in the peer parent group. Participants, teachers, and school administrators are optimistic about the intervention and hope to see modification in children’s behaviors and families in general. The Kenya team would like to thank their implementing partner BasicNeeds Kenya and the mentorship received from Dr. Keng Yen-Huang at New York University. Many thanks for making this study a success!

 
SMART Africa-Ghana

SMART Africa-Ghana is a pilot study that tests the effectiveness of the Multiple Family Group (MFG) Intervention amongst approximately 180 children and their caregivers in northern Ghana. Our SMART Africa Ghana team is currently busy in the field, delivering MFG sessions in one of the two treatment arm schools. To date, they have delivered up to session 11 to 52 families and the exercise is still ongoing. Families and the school administration, including teachers, appreciate the intervention. They participate enthusiastically and share relevant experiences to help everyone learn from one another. The School Health Education Program (SHEP) coordinators who facilitate these sessions have noted that they are proud to be part of an intervention that is improving families’ wellbeing. Regarding data collection, the team finalized 8-week data collection from participants in the treatment school. The team will begin to collect data from the parent peer group school in the near future and preparations for this are underway. The team is also working on their protocol paper, which provides a detailed account of the hypothesis, rationale, and methodology of the study. Kudos to the Ghana team for all your efforts in the field and to BasicNeeds Ghana for the wonderful collaboration.

 
Suubi4Cancer

Suubi4Cancer seeks to identify confirmed and suspected cancer cases among a cohort of more than 3,000 youth living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda. After three months of data collection by the Suubi4Cancer team, the data entry process is coming to a close. Relevant study information was extracted from over 3,000 files of HIV positive youth and entered into a REDCap database. With the data entered, the team has begun to analyze the data and as a result of early analysis, the study might be expanded to HIV uninfected individuals of ages 0-24 seeking medical services in the study region. The next phase of the study will be the delivery of the economic empowerment intervention.

 
Suubi4Her

Suubi4Her seeks to examine the impact and costs associated with an innovative combination intervention that aims to prevent HIV risk behaviors in communities heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS. We are very pleased to announce that the Suubi4Her baseline report has been finalized! The report presents the baseline (pre-intervention) survey data and a detailed understanding of the study participants in the following key areas: demographics, community background and satisfaction, family background and functioning, social support, educational outcomes and plans, poverty and asset ownership, financial saving habits, physical and mental health, menstruation practices, gender roles/norms, electronic victimization, and youth and sexual risk behaviors. These baseline data acts as benchmarks from which change will be measured post-intervention, between the usual care and treatment conditions. A full report can be found here.

Regarding field activities, the team continued to deliver all three intervention components: multiple family group (MFG), financial literacy training (FLT) and Income Generating Activity (IGA) training in the treatment arm schools. In terms of MFG, the team continues to deliver sessions to families, with up to session 10 (Dealing with Environmental Stressors) delivered in another set of four treatment arm schools. Fourteen out of the 16 schools have received all FLT sessions. In addition, the team is still conducting wave 2 follow-up assessments. To date, out of the 1,259 participants expected, the team had interviewed 1,201 participants from the 47 participating schools. The team is following up with the remaining 58 participants. Congratulations to the team for all you have accomplished this month!

Suubi4Her mHealth

This study seeks to examine the access and utilization of mobile phones (technology) and the acceptability of mHealth interventions among adolescent girls. Specifically, the study assesses behavioral health and psychosocial functioning, cell phone access, as well as beliefs and attitudes about tobacco, alcohol, substance use, sexual decision-making, and HIV-risk factors. This month, the Ugandan team has continued to transcribe the data that was collected from four qualitative interviews held last month. To date, they have transcribed all the recordings in the local language, Luganda, and are working on translating them to English.

 
Kyaterekera

The Kyaterekera Project is focused on reducing new incidences of sexually transmitted infections and HIV among female sex workers through a combination of economic empowerment, vocational skills training, and HIV risk reduction sessions. During the month of November, the inaugural Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) meeting was held on November 6, at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala. The four DSMB members learned about the overall study, including recruitment and intervention updates from the study MPIs, Dr. Fred Ssewamala, Dr. Susan Witte, and In-country PI, Dr. Joseph Kagayi and ICHAD staff. DSMB members also discussed their engagement moving forward.

In terms of field activities, the team delivered sessions 1-4 of the financial literacy training (FLT) at the Bukakata, Kirimya, Ssanje, and Super Jet sites. The sessions were complemented by officials from ICHAD’s partners, Equity and Stanbic Bank, who introduced the participants to bank services and opened savings accounts for participants. In addition, the study team reviewed financial diaries for participants who have completed all six FLT sessions, which include the daily expenditures of participants. These diaries help track participants’ income and expenditures during the intervention period. During the review sessions, participants are reminded and encouraged to save money from incentives given during each intervention session not money from sex work. Money from sex work will not be matched by the program.

The study team also continued to recruit study participants. A total of 439 participants (out of the targeted 990) at 14 study sites have been recruited, and completed baseline assessment and biological tests. Congratulations team for all your hard work this month!

 
 

CAPACITY BUILDING

 
Recruitment Training

In preparation for another round of participant recruitment for the Kyaterekera Project, the ICHAD team in Masaka, Uganda conducted a recruitment refresher training on November 15. The training was designed to refresh the team about the recruitment process including eligibility screening, consent/assent, counseling, biological tests, baseline assessments, and field documentation logistics. The training was attended by 27 ICHAD staff and 3 members from the Rakai Health Sciences Program (RHSP) - one of our implementing partners.

 
Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande Presents at the ICHAD and SMART Africa Speaker Series

On October 29, the ICHAD and SMART Africa speaker series was honored with a presentation by Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande, Assistant Vice Chancellor of International Programs – Africa at Washington University in St. Louis. He spoke of lessons learned over the course of his life, starting with his childhood in Nigeria, through 40 years in the United States. Dr. Akande motivated the audience, declaring that “the difference between success and failure is really a matter of time,” and “the future is not a place we are going, it is a place we create.” He spoke of the importance of a leap of faith when confronting new obstacles, using the metaphor of climbing stairs to overcome that which makes us afraid. He concluded with this message: “Failure to take action in the face of so many challenges and opportunities is simply irresponsible.” Thank you, Dr. Akande, for your inspiring call to action to improve our world and to all who joined us for this wonderful event!

 
Dr. Joseline Marhone Presents at the Speaker Series

On November 19, we had the great pleasure of welcoming Dr. Joseline Marhone Pierre, Director of Haiti’s Food and Nutrition Program, to our speaker series, co-hosted by the Brown School’s MPH program and the E3 Nutrition Lab. Dr. Marhone is trained as a physician, a pharmacist, and nutritionist, and with over forty years of experience in the field, she is the definition of an expert. As a representative of the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population, she gave a brief history of nutrition strategies and policies in Haiti. Dr. Marhone emphasized the importance of agriculture, education, employment, and health services working together to combat this chronic nutrition crisis. For children under 5 years old, the prevalence of anemia is 66%, and the prevalence of stunting, a sign of chronic malnutrition, is 22%. In fact, children under five years old are given nicknames rather than official names because of the increased likelihood of childhood death. She passionately declared that this should not and cannot be normalized, calling on the audience to join her in the battle to improve the health of the Haitian people through transdisciplinary solutions, technical assistance, and a broader reach across Haiti’s geographic regions. Thank you, Dr. Marhone, for your presence, for sharing your expertise, and for inspiring us all to contribute to ending global hunger and malnutrition!

 

FELLOWS CORNER

 
Dr. Teresia Mutavi
After graduating with her Ph.D. in Psychiatric Social Work late last year, SMART Africa’s Global Fellow Dr. Teresia Mutavi is currently at the University of Nairobi, where she is a lecturer and researcher exploring childhood trauma. This past year Dr. Mutavi also became a member of the SMART Africa Kenya team. In this capacity, she helps manage data that is collected from the field. Dr. Mutavi is also a co-author on several recent articles, including
“Parents’ and Teachers’ Perceptions of Factors Affecting Learning in Kenya” which was published in the Global Social Welfare Journal, last July. The paper demonstrated the need for both teachers and parents to work together to discuss perceived factors that interfere with children’s learning. She also led a paper on “Incidence of depressive symptoms among sexually abused children in Kenya” that was published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health and was one of the first studies of its kind to ascertain the incidence of depressive symptoms among children who have experienced sexual abuse in Kenya. Dr. Teresia is also a co-investigator for EQUIP Kenya. EQUIP (Ensuring Quality in Psychological Support), focuses on developing and dissemination of resources for scaling-up quality delivery of psychological interventions. EQUIP Kenya is WHO’s initiative, in collaboration with Washington University, CitiesRISE, and in partnership with Basic Needs Kenya and the Center for Public Health and development. Congratulations Dr. Mutavi, for all your recent accomplishments!

 


 
 
 
American Public Health Association (APHA) Conference Presentation

Research Assistant Joelynn Muwanga represented the ICHAD team at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in early November. She presented a poster out of the ICHAD Suubi+Adherence study that explored the role of pediatric quality of life and physical activity on self-reported medication adherence among the study participants. Analysis of this data revealed that pediatric quality of life was a positive predictor of medication adherence but found no significance with physical activity. The team also found that self-reported medication adherence was reduced as participants get older. Stay tuned for more details about these interesting findings!

NIMH 3rd Annual Scale-Up Hubs Meeting Presentation

On November 13-17, PhD Student William Byansi represented SMART Africa at the NIMH 3rd Annual Scale-Up Hubs Meeting in Bogota, Colombia. He presented on the prevalence of Disruptive Behavioral Disorders in schoolchildren in Southwestern Uganda. He also discussed the progress and challenges the group has experienced in the implementation of SMART Africa field activities and research. William was joined at the meeting by Dr. Abel Mwebembezi, the Executive Director of Reach the Youth Uganda. Our thanks and congratulations to the team for representing us!

 
 

SOCIAL CORNER

 
ICHAD Weddings

The month of December is a popular time for celebrations for the ICHAD/SMART Africa family, with two upcoming wedding celebrations. ICHAD Study Coordinator (and Brown School alumni) Jennifer Nattabi and JB Kiggundu will be walking down the aisle on December 14 at Kimaanya Catholic Church, with a reception to follow at Greenville Beach, Gayaza, Masaka. We are also pleased to announce Herbert Migadde, Deputy Study Coordinator, and Racheal Nabesezi will have a traditional wedding ceremony (Kwanjula) on December 8. Congratulations to Jennifer, Herbert and their families during this exciting wedding season.

Team Lunch at Bobo

This month, the ICHAD U.S. team celebrated the season with a lunch at the Bobo Noodle House. The team enjoyed a hot meal and each other’s company and welcomed our new staff member Jennifer Nakilembe on a cold fall day.

A New ICHAD Addition!

On October 2, SMART Africa’s Research Assistant Medress Nansubuga gave birth to a bouncing baby boy, Jaison Alpha Kateregga. Jaison and his mother are all doing well. Congratulations to Medress and your family on this wonderful addition!

 
 

UPCOMING EVENTS

 

The SSWR Annual Conference offers a scientific program that reflects a broad range of research interests, from workshops on the latest quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to symposia featuring studies in child welfare, aging, mental health, welfare reform, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS. Over 500 symposia, workshop, roundtable, paper, and poster presentations. Research methods workshops designed to enhance methods expertise and grant-writing skills and special sessions on research priorities and capacity building that target cutting-edge topics vital to contemporary social work research. Pre-conference programs and a networking reception especially for doctoral students. This year SSWR Conference will take place on January 15-19, 2020 in Washington DC, USA. You can learn more here.

ICHAD and SMART Africa team will be represented at this event with over five presentations. Updates will be provided in our January newsletter.

The 7th World Congress on Mental Health, Psychiatry and Wellbeing will take place on March 27-28, 2020, in Barcelona, Spain. This year a special focus of the Congress will be the integration of new technologies and research findings. It will also bring together expert clinicians, researchers and leaders of stakeholder organizations in the field of mental health, offering an outstanding set of Plenary and State of the Art Lectures, Educational Courses, Symposia, Workshops with experts and sessions designed by and for early-career mental health professionals and psychiatrists with the theme "Mental Health Matters: Mental illness is not a choice, but Recovery is for Wellbeing.” You can learn more here.

 

OPPORTUNITIES

 

We are excited to announce that applications are now being accepted for the 2nd Cohort of the Researcher Resilience Training (RRT) program. RRT is a multi-session training program designed to provide advanced doctoral students and early-career investigators of African descent interested in child and adolescent behavioral health, with the necessary research skills to address the significant challenges that exist within resource-poor settings.

Under the leadership of Dean Mary McKay, Dr. Fred Ssewamala, and Dr. Sean Joe, the RRT program will again develop, deliver and test state-of-the-art methods training and "hands-on" research experience to advanced doctoral students and early-career investigators, specifically those of African descent, committed to addressing the serious threats to child behavioral health, as well as prevention and care disparities in poverty-impacted local and global contexts. In collaboration with Brown School Faculty, this summer program prepare the 2nd Cohort of RRT Fellows to focus their research on serious overlapping outcomes for youth living in scare-resource communities: 1) disruptive behavioral difficulties; 2) engagement in early sexual/drug risk behaviors and; 3) early acts of delinquency, including violent behavior.

Visit the RRT website at
https://sites.wustl.edu/rrtraining/ for more information and to download the application form. Applications are due February 1, 2020. The program is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health grant R25MH118935.

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs is hosting a mentorship training for Postdocs. Each mentorship training session lasts 3 hours and will meet December 11-12, 2019 from 8:30-11:30 am. You must both sessions in order to receive a completion certificate. The interactive format consists of learning mentoring skills through case studies in small and large group discussions. Each session is led by a facilitator who has completed the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) implementation training. You can learn more here.

The STRENGTH program is designed for postdoctoral scholars, junior faculty, and fellows (PhDs and/or MDs) who are still in training and interested in pursuing patient-oriented cancer research. Program scholars must possess a MD or PhD from a clinical-research related doctoral program including, but not limited to, medical specialties, public health, epidemiology, and health economics. Eligible applicants must be citizens or non-citizen nationals of the United States, or have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence and have in their possession an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151 or I-551) or other legal verification of admission for permanent residence. You can learn more here.

Boston College School of Social Work is looking for a postdoctoral fellow for the Research Program on Children and Adversity (RPCA) to work on the implementation science, research project at the direction of Drs. Theresa Betancourt (PI) and Alethea Desrosiers (Co-PI). This program focuses on improving protection and care for children, youth, and families facing multiple forms of adversity, including due to armed conflict, poverty, and infectious disease. The program is devoted to applied cross-cultural research in health and human rights. RPCA research directly addresses strategies and methods to close the global implementation gap in providing protections and effective services for youth and families experiencing adversity.

The postdoctoral fellow will be required to spend at least 50% time in Sierra Leone, with the option of based in-country. The remaining time will be at Boston College. The postdoctoral fellow will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of data collection and management, data analysis, study design, and implementation science related to the project. A strong focus of this position is to provide skills in multilevel modeling, data analysis, study design oversight, scientific writing, and implementation science processes. Previous NIH experience is also highly desired. You can learn more
here.

Boston College is also recruiting for a Program Manager position in Rwanda. The Program Manager will oversee a local team and direct field logistics; manage day to day research team activities; manage research budgets; engage in national-level stakeholder engagement; train, implement and monitor the PLAY Collaborative Approach; and liaise regularly with partner organizations on the ground as well as local and national government officials to fulfill the scientific aims of the project. You can learn more here.

The University of California Los Angeles recently posted a full-time opportunity in Epidemiology. The UCLA Postdoctoral Fellowship Training Program in Global AIDS Prevention Research lasts three years and will involve the completion of at least one major HIV prevention research project in a global setting. Fellows must also make a research presentation in at least one major scientific conference and be published as a first author in leading scientific journals. UCLA will close the application for this position on December 16, 2019. You can learn more here.

The University of California San Francisco recently posted a full-time opportunity in the area of prevention science. The research project is an NIMH-funded study to develop a mobile app for couples in which one or both men are HIV+ Black, gay /bisexual/same-gender-loving. The team is seeking an energetic and committed individual to recruit research participants who are in a primary relationship. The position is part-time and will be under the supervision of the principal investigator. You can learn more here.
The Summer Research Program is open to students who seek challenge, research and experience in one of two tracks, along with the opportunity to explore and grow academically in a diverse environment. Students may apply to one or both programs for which they qualify, but may only be accepted into one program. These programs include:

1. Public and Global Health Track which provides students the opportunity to gain knowledge, conduct real-world practice and research, receive career counseling and build a network of colleagues while collaborating with public and global health faculty, St. Louis community professionals and each other.

2. Aging and Neurological Diseases Track which provides students the opportunity to learn about three neurological conditions and diseases that often interplay with the aging process: stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. Participants work in research labs and centers focused on these issues.

You can learn more
here.