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Welcome to Wits RHI

Tackling Africa’s
Health Challenges
through science and innovation
Tackling Africa’s
Health Challenges
through science and innovation
Tackling Africa’s
Health Challenges
through science and innovation
Tackling Africa’s
Health Challenges
through science and innovation
Tackling Africa’s
Health Challenges
through science and innovation
 

 Research Programmes

 
 
 
 
 

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Wits RHI Programmes
 
The work of Wits RHI is driven by a number of technical and research programmes. Departments support the programmes and provide an operational and strategic framework for the organisation as a whole.

 
  

Programmes

 

Health Programmes 

The Health Programmes support the South African public sector to improve care and access to health services, in the context of the HIV epidemic. These programmes are headed up by experts in their fields, and span a number of technical areas: HIV treatment and prevention, sexual and reproductive health (including maternal health and sexually transmitted infections), Paediatrics, TB and Health Systems Strengthening (including monitoring and evaluation and quality improvement). The work is conducted at national, provincial, district and sub-district levels.

 

Research Programmes

The aim is to create an understanding of the social and biological contexts and determinants of risk for sexual and reproductive health, HIV and related conditions in order to identify interventions to prevent and ameliorate morbidity in a range of populations, with the ultimate aim of positively influencing health policy and practice. Wits RHI’s research agenda includes biomedical,basic science/clinical interface, epidemiological, social science, and operations/health systems research agendas.

 

National Sex Worker and Male Client Programme

The aim is to assist in the development of a national sex worker plan by contributing to the development and implementation of surveillance tools,guidelines and curricula for sex worker and male client service delivery, and to implement and evaluate comprehensive services in selected truck stops and other identified sex worker ‘hotspots’ across South Africa.
 
 

Adolescent-friendly Services Programme

The aim is to develop and implement a replicable model of linked interventions across the three streams of the PHC re-engineering programme to improve the screening,diagnosis, quality of care and adherence to treatment of all HIV-infected adolescents.
 
 

Research Teaching Programmes

The Research Teaching Programmes have been developed within the University of the Witwatersrand in support of Masters and PhD students,and in partnership with numerous international academic institutions from Africa and the developed world.
 

 

Training

This programme supports the Department of Health and other key partners through innovative skills-building programmes with mentoring as a key component. The Training and Teaching Department also supports internal capacitybuilding in technical, behavioural and supportive skills.
 

 

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Clinical research on new diagnostics, vaccines and microbicides in adults

 

Community Engagement Research

 

Wits RHI is committed to engaging with local communities and populations around the development and implementation of biomedical prevention research. Most notably, WRHI utilises a range of community and stakeholder advisory mechanisms, including participatory research (e.g. community mapping), community radio, community events, mobile phone technology and Community Advisory Boards (CAB).The 2011 UNAIDS/ AVAC Good Participatory Practice Guidelines for Biomedical HIV Prevention Trials (GPP) guide the WRHI’s work with these mechanisms which are described below. Through a partnership with AVAC, a U.S. based advocacy organisation, Wits RHI aims to ensure that all research projects are GPP compliant.

 

Community Radio: Tshireletso Health Talk

 

Tshireletso Health Talk is a weekly radio show broadcast on community radio. It uses a talk show format to raise important reproductive and sexual health issues and generate awareness of clinical trials. The broad aims are to engage the community with Wits RHI through the promotion of scientific literacy. It is anticipated that local community members become knowledgeable health consumers and informed participants on clinical trials. The radio show benefits communities within the footprint of the radio station (Alex FM). Key collaborators are Alex FM and ABC Ulwazi. In 2011, a paper was presented to the South African AIDS Conference, entitled ‘I heard about the study on the radio’: using community radio as a mechanism for improved good participatory practice in clinical trials’. This study is funded by the Welcome Trust as part of its programmes of funding on public engagement in science.

 

Community Advisory Boards (CAB)

 

Wits RHI has worked with Community Advisory Boards (CAB) for clinical trial research since 2002. A CAB is a representative group of stakeholders that meet to discuss issues of common concern or interest around a research agenda. The establishment of CAB serves to enhance transparency and communication to bridge the gap between the researchers and the community where research is being conducted. Currently, the Institute has three CAB that serve Hillbrow based, adult research studies, Hillbrow based, youth research studies and Soweto based (Harriet Shezi), paediatric research studies. The CAB role is to provide feedback on certain aspects of project development and community issues. It is advisory in nature and advises on language and readability of study materials, management of community hearsay and rumours, recruitment and retention strategies and challenges and trial results dissemination.

 

The CAB composition is different for each CAB and typically includes 12-15 members. The Hillbrow adult CAB includes men and women of different ages that represent all of the areas served by Wits RHI services. The Hillbrow youth CAB includes youth aged 15-21 that also represent areas served by Wits RHI. The Soweto-based CAB includes parents of the paediatric patients that receive care at the Harriet Shezi clinic.

 

Over the last year, a comprehensive review and evaluation of CAB activities was completed and each CAB has been reinvigorated with a new Terms of Reference, new membership and a new research literacy training curriculum. A manuscript on the CAB activities since 2002 is in draft form and an abstract on the role of GPP in one microbicide study (FACTS) has been submitted for the Microbicides 2012 Conference.

 

 

 
 

Where we work