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 HIV in Africa. They are experts in unique activities that range from infectious disease care, non-communicable diseases care, project management, implementation, social science, or 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: Katie Bates
Role in RESPOND-AFRICA: Senior Research Associated
Projects involved within RESPOND-AFRICA: META
Where they are based: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Past role/job: Research Fellow in Health Systems, London School of Tropical Medicine
Who are you?
A demographer and epidemiologist who once, very briefly, dipped their toe in the waters of marine biology.
My degree was so diverse and introduced me to demography, public health and medical anthropology
How has your journey helped you lead to this point in your career?
I am naturally curious, which led me to study anthropology at university. My degree was so diverse and introduced me to demography, public health and medical anthropology. I met great supervisors and mentors along the way, which helped lead me to pursue an MSc and PhD at the London School of Economics, where my research centred on child malnutrition. After graduating, I realised I really enjoy working with other people; I have been lucky enough to work across multiple large-scale projects in international health, including projects on reproductive health, malaria and NCDs.
How did you initially get involved in research?
I think I took a rather unusual route! After my undergraduate degree, I volunteered for a whale and dolphin conservation charity in Scotland. During that time, I did some shore- and boat-based surveys on cetaceans in the Moray Firth. I realised I loved the process of research and the idea of generating new evidence! However, I wanted to focus on the area of international health research and so back to London for further education I went! It is also warmer on land…
What areas of HIV and NCD research and/or project management do you think are being neglected?
There are so many unknowns at every level in the field of HIV and NCD research. This is especially true in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where HIV/AIDS remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality among young-middle-aged adults which exists alongside a rapidly rising burden of NCDs (particularly diabetes mellitus and hypertension). Evidence on the efficacy of prevention strategies for NCDs in SSA is scarce. For example, prevention of diabetes in people who are pre-diabetic and at risk of progression to diabetes is crucial. However, most intervention studies in this area have been conducted in high-income countries. Moreover, there is an increase in comorbidity —people living with HIV and NCDs. There is a need for research to assess health system interventions that can support NCD related care; research is also needed to provide evidence on the potential of health system integration of NCD and HIV services. Evidence for effective management of people living with HIV and NCDs is also necessary— as well as information on how to enable sustainable access to medications… there are so many evidence gaps! RESPOND-AFRICA is conducting studies in these area, and it is a privilege to be able to work on a project aiming to help address these areas.
Research is also needed to provide evidence on the potential of health system integration of NCD and HIV services
What do you hope to do in your role and as a member of the RESPOND-AFRICA consortium?
To help generate high quality evidence that can inform policy and generate real world change.
Besides research and randomised control trials, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy being outdoors – whatever the weather – and taking my camera with me too! I’ve been learning to ski for approximately seven years now. It’s a process.