Outside the biomedical box of integrated care research. Meet some of our new RESPOND-AFRICA staff
The RESPOND-AFRICA consortium is made up of a range of diverse professionals from Europe and Africa. They are working on several different projects all aimed at improving health outcomes for people living with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and Africa in Africa. They are experts in unique activities that range from infectious disease care, non-communicable diseases care, project management, implementation, social science, and health economics. Have you ever wondered what it takes to be involved in a large global health program including multi-country randomised control trials? We have interviewed some of our new RESPOND-AFRICA members who are both on the ground and behind the scenes to give you an idea. Follow along in our series documenting some of our RESPOND-AFRICA consortium members!
Interviewee name: Faith Moyo
Role in RESPOND-AFRICA: Research Associate
Projects within RESPOND-AFRICA: MOCCA Extenstion and META 3
Where they are based: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK
Past role/job: Epidemiologist, National Institute for Communicable Diseases /Wits Health Consortium South Africa
Who are you?
I am an Epidemiologist with experience in HIV research in South Africa. I have worked for the government and for non-governmental organizations in South Africa, with some of the collaborative projects I have worked on influencing policy in that country. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with family in the great outdoors- despite being borderline entomophobic.
How has your journey helped you lead to this point in your career?
My line of work involves a lot of collaboration with other researchers. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with people from different disciplines with diverse skill sets. This flexibility has given me exposure to new research ideas and gaps in research as well as mentorship for personal growth. Coming from an HIV research background- collaborating and networking with other researchers alerted me to the rising epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in our settings (Southern Africa) and the need for further research in this field to curb the epidemic and improve quality of life for affected persons. Hence, I have had to expand my research niche to contribute knowledge towards controlling and managing the two epidemics in our settings.
This flexibility has given me exposure to new research ideas and gaps in research as well as mentorship for personal growth
How did you initially get involved in research?
I first got exposed to social science/public health research as a Research Assistant in my final year as an undergraduate student. One of my lecturers at the time approached me to help her with focus groups and key informant interviews and data collection for one of her research projects. The entire experience was an eye-opener for me. I enjoyed interacting with study participants, collecting data, trouble shooting and resolving issues that arose during the course of the project. In the end, I got involved in analysing the data from the project and assisted with writing up the final report thereof. I knew from then that was the career path for me, and I set out to further develop my academic qualifications and skillset to pursue research in social sciences/public health.
The RESPOND-AFRICA projects are among the few projects determining the feasibility of integrated care with routine clinical care with a focus on chronic conditions and investigating the benefits of integrated care for chronic conditions in the process
How has the field of integrated care, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, been changing?
Most health programmes in SSA operate in silos and this creates problems because the region has limited resources. There is little literature available in the field of integrated care in Africa as a whole. Over the years, there has been some research demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of integrated care in Africa/SSA. However, most of this research has been on small donor-funded projects and/or relating to conditions associated with HIV, for example, integration of TB care with routine HIV care. The RESPOND-AFRICA projects are among the few projects determining the feasibility of integrated care with routine clinical care with a focus on chronic conditions and investigating the benefits of integrated care for chronic conditions in the process. These projects are raising awareness into the neglected problem of NCDs in SSA and suggesting solutions through integrated care in the face of limited resources in SSA.
What areas of HIV and NCD research and/or project management do you think are being neglected?
I think HIV has benefitted from extensive funding (both locally and foreign) in SSA to the extent that, over the years, HIV has shifted from a death sentence to a well-controlled chronic condition in the region. However, I think that NCDs, mostly diabetes and hypertension, have been neglected and do not have as many resources as HIV for management. As a result, treatment outcomes for affected persons are generally poor compared to HIV. Thus, I think there’s a need to raise awareness on the magnitude of the problem of NCDs in the region and stakeholders to need to take action, promptly. There are lessons to be learnt from the HIV epidemic which can translate into NCDs to prevent unnecessary loss of lives.
What do you hope to do in your role and as a member of the RESPOND-AFRICA consortium?
My goal is to be involved in meaningful research that impacts policy and improves care and quality of life for people. RESPOND-AFRICA engages in high-quality clinical trials and my belief is that results from these trials have the potential to improve health service delivery in our settings for the betterment of health for citizens. If in my role as a member of the RESPOND AFRICA consortium I can contribute to this by improving the quality of data generated from these trials and subsequent dissemination of findings, then I have achieved my goal.
There are lessons to be learnt from the HIV epidemic which can translate into NCDs to prevent unnecessary loss of lives
Besides research and randomised control trials, what do you enjoy doing?
I am a mom to two girls, and I enjoy spending time with them (mostly!). I also like spending time outdoors, jogging, hiking and taking road trips, nothing like the open road to clear one’s mind!