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The 2018 8th Nation Health Research conference whose theme was, “Breaking New Ground in Health Research: moving from results to implementation -without leaving anyone behind,” was held from the 15th to 17th October, 2018 in Lusaka. It was a joint meeting with the 12th Annual HIV Technical Conference whose theme was, “Sustaining the Momentum toward HIV Epidemic Control.” The meeting was a well-attended by many organizations and researchers. Different presentations incorporating a wide range of topics were made. The conference presented opportunities to net working with researchers from different organization and share new ideas on how to move from results to implementations of our research work. As Macha research trust we had 7 oral presentations and 5 poster presentations from Molecular laboratory and Clinical research laboratory.
Awards: Macha research Trust was awarded with CIDIRZ the outstanding research institution award for its consistence in health research. Dr. Thuma was also awarded the Dr. Chifumbe Chintu International senior Researcher award. The awards were received for the institution and Dr. Thuma by Dr. Stevenson and Dr. Moss respectively. Malaria Symposium: Dr. Stevenson presented on the work carried out by the ICEMR in Malaria research highlighting the factors that important in a pre-elimination setting such as Macha and how the ICEMR has tried to provide timely input to the national program through evaluation of the various malaria interventions.
Key Note Speech: Dr. Moss
Dr. Moss recounted his experiences with research in Zambia for the last 10 years with a focus on how it has helped it has being implemented in the health sector. He focused on the studies he has conducted in the field of HIV/AIDS, Measles and Rubella and Malaria and their endeavor to inform nation policy. The research involved collaborations with MRT, UTH Virology laboratory and TDRC.
Japhet: Predatory Journals; A Threat to Health Research Dissemination In Zambia.
Being one of the first presentations the presentation was well attended. There were no questions asked as time had run out. However, we got some questions after the presentation with people requesting for the resources shared during the presentation such as Bealls list. We were also approached by some individuals who had submitted publications to local journals but have not received any feedback while others asked for assistance on how to identify a good journal. From these questions it appears there is a knowledge gap in this area and it would be worth carrying this forward. One way of doing this would be to engage the NHRC on what aspects of journals dissemination forums they would like to know more about and how to structure that into a study that would help to inform National policy.
Twig and Limonty: Comparison of Indoor and Outdoor Collections of Anopheline Mosquitoes in Macha, Southern Province
The presentation showed that An. Squamosis and An. Rufipes are the predominant outdoors species in the Macha area while An. Arabiensis is the primary indoor vector. Presence of sporozoites in the two outdoor species suggests that these are potential secondary vectors critical for maintaining transmission in pre-elimination Zones. During this session two other presentations from Path MACEPA collaborated the findings from MRT on the activity of these secondary vectors in Southern Zambia. There is a need to conduct more detailed studies to better understand the role of these secondary vectors.
Mukuma: A Decade of Malaria Surveillance using SMS mobile phone Technology in a Low Transmission Setting in Southern Zambia.
The presentation showed how mobile phone short message services in near real time can be used to monitor progress in reducing the burden of Malaria in areas targeted for elimination. It also should the accuracy of improved if the reporting is done by trained and motivated staff. Mr. Lubinda also brought out that there is need to feed back some of this surveillance data to the respective communities.
Ben: Using Parasite DNA from Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) to Track Malaria in a Low Transmission Setting in Southern Zambia
The presentation showed how RDTs could be a source of DNA that could be used for a variety of molecular epidemiology work. These applications include determining parasite levels and creating genetic profiles of the parasite. The presenter was asked whether it would be possible to apply this technique to HIV.
Harry: Enhancing Bed Net Use by Periodical Bed Net Monitoring May Help Achieve the Goal of Malaria Elimination by 2021
The poster showed that system to regularly monitor bed net use at the community level combined with messages on their appropriate use and care would improve utilization of bed nets, and thus could be beneficial in the effort to eliminate malaria in Zambia.
Micheal: MRT Stand
The stand was visited by a number of people. These included; a Biostatistician from CIDRZ, representative from Equip diagnostics, lecturer from the Copperbelt University and another Lecturer and student from Copperbelt university school of Engineering, students from University of Zambia School of Engineering under ICT, representative from Provincial Medical Office (PMO), a representative from Bupilo foundation in Western province of Zambia and of course colleagues from TDRC, PATH and many more.
Visitors to the booth were very impressed with our work especially because we are in a remote area. However, they asked as to why we have not expanded or spread our wings to other parts of the country. The simple reason was resource constraints and that initially the vision had been for Macha, however, information gathered and lessons learnt can be used elsewhere.
Presentation by MRT-Non Malaria
There was a general interest in the work that was being conducted by MRT demonstrated by requests for the presentation on the Gene Expert given by Passwell and the questions asked after presentations given by colleagues. In addition, some visitors to the stand expressed interest to visit MRT if the opportunity is accorded.
Other Interesting Presentations
Two presentations under the traditional, complimentary, and alternative Medicines category caught our eyes. The indigenous knowledge symposium titled, “Harnessing Indigenous Knowledge Systems for Novel Drug Development in Zambia: The case of Steganotaenia araliecea in obstetrical care”, presented by Prof Fastone Goma et al made us realize the need to document some of the local alternative medicines and practices in the Macha area. This could be started by creating a local herbarium for future studies. Under this category the other presentation of interest was the phase 1 trial of the SF2000SD (locally as known as the Sondashi formulae) which may have activity against HIV intergrase.
There were also sessions on results based financing and the HIV/AIDS technical updates on use of Dolutegravir. The government and partners introduce Dolutegravir, an intergrase inhibitor as one of triple combination in June this year.