March 2020
Click here if you are having trouble viewing this message.
Spring greetings from the ICHAD and SMART Africa Teams. In response to COVID-19, we have taken precautionary measures with regard to our field activities and events. Fieldwork for all studies is currently suspended, and we have made the difficult decision to postpone our annual global conference, originally scheduled for June. 

Prior to suspending our field activities, SMART Africa-Uganda team had delivered sessions 11, 12, and 13 of the multiple family group (MFG) intervention to 30 families and SMART Africa-Ghana delivered session 6 of the MFG intervention to 55 families. Suubi4STEM conducted virtual training for the study team. The Suubi4Her study team recruited a new group of Research Assistants and they have all received good clinical practice and human subjects protection training. Finally, the Anzansi study team in Ghana finalized school selection as well as the adaptation of all intervention manuals. 

The ICHAD and SMART Africa teams will continue to take precautions and promote strategies such as utilizing technology, social distancing, working from home, and handwashing in order to combat the spread of COVID-19. We hope that everyone stays safe and healthy during these unprecedented times!

Best regards,
ICHAD and SMART Africa Teams
 

UPDATES FROM THE FIELD

 
A Multiple Family Group (MFG) session facilitated by the SMART Africa-Uganda Team
SMART Africa-Uganda

SMART Africa-Uganda is a scale-up study in Uganda that utilizes an adapted version of the evidence-based MFG intervention. This intervention has 16 sessions that aim to address behavioral health challenges in children and adolescents. This month marked the end of the 8-week follow-up assessments in the 8 schools that are currently receiving the MFG intervention with 1374 guardian and children interviews completed out of 1400 expected interviews. This gives a 98.1% turn up with a 1.9% attrition rate. MFG session delivery continued this month in the eight treatment arm schools with sessions 11, 12, and 13 delivered across 30 family groups. The average attendance for all three sessions was 78%.

Guardians and facilitators completed fidelity assessments at the end of every session - per protocol requirements. Additionally, families were grateful for the project’s effort in minimizing their contraction of COVID-19 by providing them with disinfectants to wash their hands before and after joining the sessions.

Thanks to the Uganda team for not only keeping the study moving forward but providing community education around the importance of handwashing during these challenging times!

 
SMART Africa-Ghana Team Member Interviewing Participants
SMART Africa-Ghana

SMART Africa-Ghana is a pilot study that tests the effectiveness of the MFG intervention amongst 180 children and their caregivers in northern Ghana. Before the Ghana government’s directive to close all schools, the SMART Africa-Ghana team had delivered up to session 6 of the MFG intervention in the treatment arm school where the intervention is delivered by parent peers with 55 families in attendance on March, 14. In addition, all data entry for the control and treatment arm where the intervention was delivered by school health education coordinators has been done and data entry for the peer parent-led school is still ongoing. Lastly, the Ghana team is working on their IRB continuing renewal. Thanks to our Ghana team for the wonderful work!

 
Training for Suubi4Her Team Members
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. This March, our team in Uganda, consisting of 27 research assistants and newly recruited interviewers received good clinical practice (GCP) training at Rakai Health Sciences Program and were all awarded completion certificates. The team was trained on informed consent and data collection techniques, including how to collect good quality data. They also reviewed the entire Suubi4Her questionnaire. The GCP trainer, Mrs. Grace Kigozi said the members received all the necessary skills to enable them to collect good quality data when the time comes.

Following the instructions from the president of the Republic of Uganda to cancel all gatherings in the struggle to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, all field study activities have been postponed until further notice. Wave 3 interviews will commence as soon as the situation normalizes and when it is safe to meet and interact with participants.

 
Introductory Training for the Suubi4Stem Team
Suubi4STEM

Suubi4STEM is a signature program focused on advancing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education in Africa. The overall goal of this project is to increase the number of children who transition from primary school to secondary school and increase the STEM-related knowledge and skills of all students who make this transition. The Suubi4STEM research team has been preparing study documents for IRB submission. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the team was unable to have its scheduled March stakeholders’ meeting in Uganda. However, this did not hinder them from conducting an introductory training for the ICHAD Uganda staff via the Zoom conferencing platform. Indeed, there was no better way to conduct this training than to use technology, which is a testament to the importance and applicability of STEM. The team will continue to work on the study documentation and adaptation aspects until it is safe to recruit study participants and implement the study. Congratulations to the team upon such a successful training!

 
Kyaterekera

The Kyaterekera Project is focused on reducing new incidences of sexually transmitted infections and HIV, among women engaged in sex work in Uganda, through a combination of economic empowerment, vocational skills training, and HIV risk reduction (HIVRR) sessions. The Kyaterekera Study team started the 6-month follow-up assessments, the team has followed up on 97 out of 131 participants recruited from four sites. Participants who tested HIV negative at baseline were re-tested to check for new incidences of HIV.

Before suspending recruitment activities, the team had recruited a total of 542 participants (out of 990 targeted) from 19 sites who had all completed baseline assessments and biological tests. The financial literacy intervention continued to be delivered in early March at four different treatment sites. The team delivered up to session 3 at two sites and session 1 at two other sites with an average attendance of 85% across all sites. A total of 238 (67%) Individual Development Accounts (IDA) have been opened in two partnering banks (Stanbic and Equity Bank) out of 356 expected from 12 treatment arm I and II schools. 

As noted above, all field activities have recently been suspended due to COVID-19.

 
Drs. Abdallah, Mwebembezi, and Nabunya and Mrs. Nabisere and Mr. Nsubuga meeting with Anzansi study team members/collaborators
Anzansi Family Program

The ANZANSI Family Program seeks to pilot test the feasibility of an innovative combination intervention (Family economic empowerment and MFG) amongst adolescent girls at risk of dropping out of school and migrating to cities for work in Northern Ghana. Ten schools were selected based on high dropout rates using data obtained from Ghana Education Service. Initial individual meetings were held with schools, all of which expressed interest in participating in the study. The second meeting, which would provide additional details about the study to school stakeholders was unfortunately postponed due to COVID-19 preventive measures implemented in Ghana, including the closure of schools and ban on public gatherings. The team is in the process of buying textbooks on core subjects that will be provided to both control and treatment groups as part of bolstered care. The manual to facilitate MFG sessions was finalized and the team agreed on the criteria for selection of female facilitators for MFG sessions. The Financial Literacy Training (FLT) manual was also finalized. The team is in the process of finalizing a documented agreement with the Agricultural Development Bank of Ghana, where Child Development Accounts of participants will be opened and housed. Congratulations to the Anzansi team for all your work!

 
 
ICHAD and SMART Africa’s Scholar Pipeline

The ICHAD and SMART Africa Centers are going through an exciting moment in regards to training and creating a pipeline for young scholars. This year is particularly special given the numbers. Several ICHAD and SMART Africa colleagues will be moving on for further studies in the PhD, DrPH, and MPH programs. We are proud of each of these valuable team members who are taking the next step toward achieving their goals. We wish them all the best! 
  
Mr. Christopher Damulira, ICHAD Field Data Manager was accepted into the MPH Program at Washington University’s Brown School. He will be joining us in Fall 2020. With a dual major in Economics and Statistics, Christopher has worked with ICHAD for over 8 years. He has always wanted to further his training in biostatistics and public health, and we couldn’t be happier that he gets to do this here at the Brown School. Congratulations to Christopher on this important accomplishment!

Mr. Joshua Kiyingi, SMART Africa and ICHAD Study Coordinator, was accepted into the Public Health Doctoral Program at Washington University’s Brown School, starting Fall 2020. A Quantitative Economist by training, Joshua has worked with ICHAD for four years and has tremendously contributed to the successful implementation of our studies.  Congratulations to Joshua for achieving your dream!

Ms. Joelynn Muwanga, ICHAD-Brown Research Assistant, will be joining Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for her MPH Program, starting July 1, 2020. Joelynn has worked for ICHAD for close to two years. Under the mentorship of Dr. Fred. Joelynn received a Diversity Supplement from the National Institutes of Health on the Suubi4Her study. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Joelynn, during her training at Johns Hopkins. Congratulations to Joelynn on this amazing accomplishment!

Ms. Jennifer Nattabi, ICHAD Study Coordinator was accepted into the Social Work Doctoral Program at Washington University’s Brown School. She will be joining us here at the Brown School in Fall 2020. A trained teacher with an MSW from Brown School, Jennifer has worked with ICHAD for over 10 years. Throughout this period, Jennifer has always wanted to further her training at the PhD level.  She is an inspiration to many young women in Uganda. Congratulations to Jennifer!

ICHAD and SMART Africa would like to take this opportunity to thank each one of you for your contribution towards all of our projects. We are all very proud of each one of you, and we look forward to following your progress. You are all set to do great work, and to make this world a better place for children, adolescents, families, communities, and nations!

 

CAPACITY BUILDING

 
ICHAD, SMART Africa, and Brown School Career Services workshop series for African Students

On March 5, ICHAD held its 3rd Career Workshop Series for African students, led by Catherine Nkonge. This session taught attendees how to fine-tune their job search strategy. This workshop provided the participants with a strategy to find the right job by identifying the type of work they are interested in and what populations they would like to serve. By identifying personal strengths and responsibilities, individuals could further refine their job search and find a high-value career that utilizes their specific skill sets and personal mission. The workshop also included an introduction to LinkedIn and numerous job search resources to aid in identifying new jobs and opportunities.

 

FELLOWS CORNER

 
Latoya Small
The SMART Africa team is thrilled with all that Dr. Latoya Small has accomplished in the past few years, first as a SMART Africa Global Fellow and now as a Researcher Resiliency Fellow. Along with other Global Fellows, Dr. Latoya Small was a first author of a recently published article entitled, “South African caregivers as ‘protective shields’: Serving as a buffer between stressful neighborhood conditions, food security, and youth risk behaviors.” Co-authors of this article include Drs. Tyrone Parchment, Ozge Sensoy Bahar, Hadiza Osuji, and SMART Africa colleagues Dr. Arvin Bhana and Dean Mary McKay. Dr. Small is an Assistant Professor at Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles, where her research focuses on health disparities, specifically, the intersection of mental health, treatment adherence, and HIV among women and children in the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa. Thank you, Dr. Latoya, for all the work you do.


 
 

SOCIAL CORNER

 
Apolonia Nantaba's Baby Girl

In February, ICHAD Research Assistant and Nurse, Apolonia Nantaba, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Both the baby and her mother are doing well. Congratulations to Apolonia and your family on this wonderful addition!

 

OPPORTUNITIES

 

ICHAD Opportunities

The T37 LEAD Global Fellowship Program is accepting applications for a 1 to 2-year postdoctoral fellow. The LEAD Global Fellowship supports trainees from underrepresented groups committed to conducting health disparities research, with a specific focus on global mental health prevention, intervention, services, and implementation research within resource-constrained settings. Eligible candidates should be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or permanent resident, and be from a disadvantaged or underrepresented population in biomedical, behavioral, clinical & social science research as outlined by the NIH.

The postdoctoral fellow will be in residence at Washington University in St. Louis. The postdoc will engage in writing publications using study data and proposal development to explore new opportunities related to HIV/AIDS or global mental health disparities. The postdoctoral fellowship also includes a summer training program at Washington University and 6-8 weeks of mentored research at a Sub-Saharan Africa study site with a current NIH-funded Mental Health Intervention. 

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and can be completed on the
T37 LEAD Global Fellowship website at https://sites.wustl.edu/lead/apply/. For more information, contact Betsy Abente at eabente@wustl.edu

External Opportunities

Research Program on Children and Adversity
Boston College School of Social Work

Supervisory Health Scientist Administrator
NIMH Center for Global Mental Health

STRENGTH program 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
Washington University in St. Louis

Summer Training Institute - System Science for Social Impact
Washington University in St. Louis

Research Associate (Implementation Science)
Boston College School of Social Work

Research Associate (Gender)
Boston College School of Social Work

Data Analyst
The Kaiser Family Foundation’s Global Health Policy Program

Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Adolescent in Behavioral Health
The Indiana University School of Medicine