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Background
There has been a steady rise in the prevalence of overweight and obese children in all regions of the world. In very extreme cases, researchers are reporting prevalence rates for overweight/obesity in the range of 10 – 40% in developed nations. In actual numbers, 50 million girls and 74 million boys were obese in 2016. The global burden of diseases project found that the prevalence of overweight/obesity among adolescents nearly doubled from 1990 to 2016, with a current prevalence of 18%. It is more disturbing that this rise in the prevalence of overweight and obesity is faster in low and middle income countries (LMIC) compared to the developed countries. There are studies in Africa which are already reporting prevalence of overweight/obesity higher than this global average.

Rising prevalence of Adolescent Obesity in Nigeria
In the past few decades, Nigerian studies on the nutritional status of children hardly reported childhood obesity, but this is changing in recent times. Some Nigerian studies are reporting prevalence of childhood or adolescent overweight/obesity close to the global average. It is more worrisome that studies are showing an alarming rise in the prevalence of adolescent obesity. For example, a study we carried out in a Nigerian state in 2011 reported a prevalence rate less than 1% for adolescent obesity, whereas another study we did, in the same state and among a similar population of adolescents, reported a prevalence greater than 10% eight years later. In another graphic example, the prevalence of childhood overweight/obesity reported by UNICEF for Nigeria increased from 2% to 8% within 2 years (2017 to 2019).

Reason for the rising prevalence of Adolescent Obesity in Nigeria
The increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity have been attributed to nutrition transition. According to Popkin, nutrition transition depicts the change from the traditional food patterns rich in fruits, vegetables and fibre, to what has been called the western food pattern. This western food pattern describes food rich in sugar, refined foods, saturated fats with little or low fibre. Nutrition transition also involves the reduction in energy expenditure and the more sedentary lifestyles brought about by technological improvements. Nigeria is experiencing nutrition transition, with rapid urbanization and associated adoption of western diets and reducing energy expenditure among children and adolescents. The increasing pattern of westernized diets and reduced physical activity including excessive consumption of media has been reported among Nigerian Children.
Implication of the rising prevalence of Adolescent Obesity in Nigeria
The major challenge with the increasing prevalence of overweight/obesity among adolescents is the morbidity and mortality that has been associated with these nutritional states. Overweight/obesity among children and adolescents has been associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, which have been termed cardio-metabolic diseases. Increasing number of studies are reporting significant relationships between rising body mass index and high blood pressure, glucose intolerance and metabolic risks.

Findings from a recent Nigerian Study
We carried out a study recently among Nigerian adolescents living in the South-western part of the country, and the study aimed to estimate the prevalence of obesity and its relationship with the cardiometabolic health of the adolescents.
The overall prevalence of overweight/obesity that we found among the adolescents was 10.2%. This prevalence is higher than the country specific estimate, the regional estimate for West Africa and the global estimate by the joint child malnutrition estimates by WHO and UNICEF. We also found the prevalence of systolic and diastolic pre-hypertension to be 10.9% and 11.5% respectively, while the prevalence for systolic and diastolic hypertension were 14.4 and 8.6% respectively. Overall, nearly a third of the adolescents had either elevated systolic and/or diastolic blood pressure. Similar findings, but with higher prevalence of pre-hypertension have been reported by another author in Nigeria, also working among Nigerian adolescents. After controlling for all independent variables using binary logistic regression analysis, those that were overweight/obese were six times more likely to have raised blood pressure than others.

Recommendation
The Government at all levels in Nigeria, Non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders in Adolescent health need to show more interest in the issue of adolescent obesity and its attendant health risks.

 

Adeleye is a Lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. His area of specialty is in Nutrition Epidemiology. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Public Health at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

The 8th Public Lecture of the Joint Advanced Seminar 3 was delivered by Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor, the Honourable Commissioner for Human Resources, Science, Technology, African Union Commission on February 25, 2021. The theme of the lecture was Science, Technology and Innovation: The Catalyst for Development of the Africa We Want.

The annual lecture is often delivered by a distinguished African academic or professional and is one of the highlights of the JAS 3. This series of lectures focuses on the intersection between higher education, research, and the health of the population and takes on different themes every year.

In her lecture, Prof Agbor spoke of the need to invest more in innovation for development. “As a continent, we should invest more in Science, Technology, & Innovation and put in place the needed infrastructure & human resource. Further, we must invest in education, making it top of the list if we are to deliver world-class graduates,” she said.

Watch the recording of the event here.

Lindiwe Farlane shares her experience of the just concluded Joint Advanced Seminar 3

What opportunities emerged from the virtual JAS 3 sessions and what are the lessons you drew from the whole seminar experience?
I found the online seminar to be time-saving and allowed me protected time with facilitators without in-person distractions. I feel that my facilitators had adequate time to go through and understand my work, hence they provided very useful feedback even on my objectives and literature review which I had overlooked. I was given space to work independently, while I also had the comfort of knowing there is someone to bounce my thoughts and findings with.

How different has this JAS 3 been for you as a fellow? What has the whole experience been like?
Initially, I was worried about the online experience due to the different time zones, internet connectivity issues, too much screen time, and family/child care issues. To my surprise the glitches were minimal, and I enjoyed the entire JAS 3 seminar, both online and the residential sessions. The group allocations have been well thought, and it is helpful to work with people working on similar topics and getting additional advice from other fellows.

How vital has this been to your doctoral journey?
I found the videos motivating and the sessions presented by Dr. Tunde, Dr. Sunday, and Dr. Stephen were timely and spot on. The individual sessions with my allocated facilitators: Dr. Olamide, Dr. Adedini & Dr. Wandera, were focused and frank. I began to see my work with an external reviewer in mind and I could be vulnerable with people who are more familiar with the journey. Even though I am not yet where I would like to be with the analysis and write-up, my work is clearer to the reader.

What do you think was expected of you by the facilitators?
I think the facilitators expected me to have the basic understanding of my study and with some data collected, preliminary findings, and a manuscript in development. Although my PhD is not by publication, the manuscript format has helped me to break down each objective and write up on each result in a concise manner. I believe I have made good progress towards my thesis write-up with 2/4 results in writing phases.

This blog post was first published on the AAS blog as part of a series that explored how the eleven DELTAS Africa-funded consortia were able to leverage on the TOC and pivot in real-time to support an Africa-wide response to COVID-19, influencing research and policy across the continent and beyond.

In this blog, they looked at the impetus and breadth of the work performed by African researchers and institutions supported by CARTA. 

Children, the indirect COVID-19 casualties
Adesola Olumide, a CARTA graduate and part of the WHO–UNICEF–Lancet Commission, investigated the future for the world’s children after the pandemic. She and the team found that the pandemic exacerbates many other threats to children like climate change, harmful substances, unstable housing, inadequate education, and social protection. The pandemic will also jeopardise child welfare gains, causing a global crisis in which children will be the prime casualties.

It is only now that research from developed countries is highlighting the effects of the pandemic on children. A study by the OECD found that “school closures, social distancing, and confinement increase the risk of poor nutrition among children, exposure to domestic violence, rise to anxiety and stress, and reduce access to vital family and care services.”

COVID-19’s impact on African health systems
Across the continent, there are many examples of fragile health systems; when the pandemic hit, they became the weak points in the response. Chinenyenwa Ohia, chose to focus on Nigeria’s national health systems unable to effectively respond to the growing needs of already infected patients requiring admission into intensive care units for Acute Respiratory Diseases and SARS COV-2 pneumonia. She discussed the urgent need to consider Nigeria’s context and explore available collective measures and interventions to address the pandemic.

Faustin Ntirenganya, (University of Rwanda), was part of an international cohort researching mortality and pulmonary complications in patients undergoing surgery with perioperative SARS-CoV-2 infection. They found that postoperative pulmonary complications occur in 50% of patients with perioperative SARS-CoV-2 and are associated with high mortality. During the COVID-19 pandemic, thresholds for surgery should be higher than standard practice, particularly in men aged 70 years and older, and non-urgent procedures should be postponed.

Ntirenganya also tackled COVID-19 preparedness within the surgical, obstetric, and anesthetic ecosystems in Africa. Working with a group of researchers, they found that the major challenge is balancing the need to maintain provisions for emergency and essential surgery while preserving precious resources and minimizing exposure to health care workers. They suggest a plan be developed for providing essential operations during the pandemic.

While, Omotade Ijarotimi, (Obafemi Awolowo University), sought to review what was already known about COVID-19 and highlight gaps in the context of Nigerian obstetric practice. Her research found that both in and out of hospital, obstetricians and obstetric patients are at risk of exposure to the COVID-19 because of ineffective or non-existent testing, and lack of preventive measures. She suggests increasing the budget allocation for health in Nigeria from the current 4% to the recommended 15% of the total budget.

Cost of COVID-19 on elective surgery
Jean de la Croix, (University of Rwanda), analysed elective surgery cancellations across the continent. The study was based on global predictive modeling, finding that a vast number of operations would be canceled or postponed because of pandemic-related disruption. It recommended that governments mitigate patients’ burden by developing recovery plans and implementing strategies to restore surgical activity safely. Globally, studies found similar cancellations. Similar results have been reported from western countries.

CovidSurg Collaborative investigated global guidance for surgical care during the pandemic and determined that hospitals should prepare detailed, context‐specific pandemic preparedness plans addressing the provision of staff training, support for the overall hospital response to COVID‐19, the establishment of a team‐based approach for running emergency services, and recognition & management of COVID‐19 infection in patients treated as an emergency and those who have had surgery.

COVID-19 and the elderly
Since the start, the disease’s profound effect on the elderly and those with underlying conditions have been stressed. Including one by Mueller et al (CARTA) which demonstrated that “advanced age is by far the greatest risk factor for COVID-19 fatality, independent of underlying co-morbidities.” While research by Eniola Cadmus et.al on caring for older adults during the pandemic describes the experience of attending to the healthcare needs of both the acutely ill and clinically stable patients. The study emphasizes the importance of empowering patients to be actively informed about their clinical condition and safely carry out self-management.

Testing and diagnosis
Several CARTA fellows were at the core of building national testing capacity, with CARTA graduates leading the setup of diagnostic laboratories. Tonney Nyirenda, for example, led one of the four active COVID-19 diagnostic centers in Malawi at the College of Medicine, University of Malawi.

Alongside facilitating COVID-19 research, CARTA was also involved in improving responses and strengthening research capacity during the pandemic. CARTA partner institutions – the University of Witwatersrand-South Africa, University of Ibadan-Nigeria, the University of Nairobi-Kenya, Makerere University-Uganda, Moi University-Kenya, Obafemi Awolowo University-Nigeria, University of Rwanda, the University of Malawi, the African Population and Health Research Center, Kenya Medical Research Insititute (KEMRI), Agincourt and Ifakara Health Institute-Tanzania were involved in the national taskforce responses in their countries, collaborating on research projects on epidemiology, diagnostics and clinical trials on vaccines or treatments. Most partner institutions also engaged in direct service provision to healthcare professionals and the community, preparing information briefs and educational materials, training professionals on the use of PPE, and even producing masks and other necessary equipment for distribution among healthcare workers. Some went as far as setting up a drive-through testing facility.

In this issue, we celebrate ten years of CARTA’s contribution to the development of a vibrant African academy. Who else to reflect on the decade better than a funder who has been with us all along? Besides, we delve into the aspect of going virtual and local and how CARTA adapted to the ‘new normal’ even as we marked the #CARTA@10 celebrations. Speaking of new, we introduce Cohort 10 fellows and the incoming CARTA Board Chairperson, Funke Fayehun who promises to “do more and go further.” Also, check out Jude Igumbor’s in-depth take on health research in Africa and catch up with one of CARTA’s latest graduates as she speaks to us on her captivating work on the intersection of design and health. Happy reading!

Read it here> CARTA biannual Newsletter- Issue 11

We had a chance to speak with Akinyinka Omigbodun, former chairman of the management board of CARTA and a coordinator and facilitator of the ongoing Joint Advanced Seminar 3. He weighed in on the benefits and gaps of virtual meetings and shared his opinion on  the importance of the Joint Advanced Seminar 3 to the CARTA fellows’ doctoral journey. Read on to find out how different this year’s JAS 3 is from the previous ones.

Virtual meetings have become the norm since the Covid-19 pandemic started. What would you say are the benefits, drawing from your experience of the just-concluded joint advanced seminar (JAS)? Can this be embraced for future meetings/ events?

I believe one of the legacies from the world’s current battle with the COVID-19 pandemic will be a permanent alteration in the way meetings and other forms of social interaction are conducted. Even when the pandemic comes entirely under control, some of the practices forced upon us by the exigencies of the situation will undoubtedly endure. A lot of meetings that were held in person before will now be held over virtual platforms. It does not mean that person-to-person meetings will cease entirely, but they will certainly be less frequent, and justifying the expenditure of resources on such meetings will be more challenging. One of the virtual platform benefits is less financial outlay in terms of cost of travel, hotel, and other incidental expenses. Another advantage is that it has compelled new thinking about how we could best achieve the objectives of JAS-3. I think the one-on-one facilitation between resource persons and Fellows probably encouraged the facilitators to become more familiar with the work of the particular Fellows they were interacting with, which should have a positive impact on the quality of the interactions. I believe this one-on-one prolonged interaction over three-hour blocks of time will probably become a permanent feature of future JAS-3 deliveries. However, I make bold to say that when the situation returns to normal, we will still need to hold part of JAS-3 as a person-to-person event, albeit for a shorter length of time than we had used in the past. The camaraderie engendered by the intense social interactions of previous JASes led to the forging of many collaborations for research and manuscript preparation. We need to continue to provide such opportunities for future CARTA Fellows as part of their doctoral journeys.

How different was this year’s JAS 3 compared to the past from a facilitation point of view? 

The fact that this year’s JAS-3 is being held over a virtual platform is already a significant departure from the past where all the CARTA Fellows gathered in Ibadan, and different facilitators came in for varying lengths of time, usually not more than a week, for intensive interactions with the Fellows. That meant that some facilitators had to make very long journeys, either from within Africa or other continents, to get to Ibadan. That often constituted a lot of sacrifice in terms of time for the trips to and fro and the time spent in Ibadan. While it was tasking, on the one hand, it also provided an opportunity for some of the facilitators to visit the country and the institution for the first time, widening their horizons and creating opportunities for meeting new people or starting new collaborations. With the virtual platform used this year, the facilitators could stay in their places of abode and engage the CARTA Fellows from there. This allowed them to have more time to continue many of their other day-to-day activities than the previous mode of delivery allowed. However, it also reduced the level of interaction and the ‘getting-to-know-you’ atmosphere that existed with the previous practice. During those last seminars, the Fellows and the Facilitators often had more intense periods of person-to-person interactions, including conversations over meals, that made it easier to develop academic relationships that could continue after the JAS. I believe that some Fellows were able to establish a level of rapport with Facilitators during previous JAS-3 diets that may not be possible with this virtual mode because the interaction was more limited in duration and conducted over the internet. I can sum up by saying that some of the differences have been advantageous while others, indeed, are not.

How vital is JAS 3 to the CARTA fellows’ doctoral journey?

I think that JAS-3, if one were to use the analogy of baking a cake, signifies when the cake should be ready for removal from the oven. In that kind of metaphorical frame, JAS-4 represents the icing on the cake. I believe JAS-3 is where Fellows crystallize their thoughts and ideas and bring it all together in their manuscripts, whether for journal articles or a monograph-type dissertation. When fellows make optimal use of the opportunities JAS-3 presents, they emerge having a better understanding of the research work they have done and are more confident in expressing themselves about the new things they had discovered in the course of their research journey. CARTA Fellows need to understand from very early in the doctoral fellowship journey that being able to communicate the output of their research competently is vital to advancement in their academic careers and that JAS-3 affords them a platform to hone those skills.  

Central to the training program for CARTA Fellows is a series of residential Joint Advanced Seminars (JAS), designed to enhance their skills and knowledge, guide and propel them through the research process, and provide a foundation for building networks of researchers, peers, and mentors.

This year, the Joint Advanced Seminar (JAS) 3 began on January 11th to 29th. The seminar focuses on data presentation, doctoral dissertation, scientific writing, and communication skills and aims to help the fellows interpret their data and present research findings. It also helps improve the fellows’ data analysis and scholarly writing skills and supports their capacity to write up their qualitative and or quantitative results concisely. Skills in prose, visual and tabular data presentation and understanding of the peer review and publication process is part of the seminar’s focus.

For facilitators like Sunday Adedini (Cohort One Graduate, Obafemi Awolowo University), the sessions have been exciting. “Facilitating in the on-going virtual CARTA JAS 3 comes with a lot of experiences and lessons. For instance, in his words, one of the fellows assigned to him remarked that “the statistical technique for my research – multilevel modeling, and my expectations from the JAS are similar to yours. I would have learned well from your experiences and expertise if I had met you three years ago,” he said.

The first week started with teaching sessions with two parallel sessions coordinated by CARTA graduates. The second week focused on data analysis, where fellows are paired with experts based on needs submitted in the Pre JAS form. The fellows also present their manuscripts to build their skills in the online conference presentation.

Lebogang Maseko, one of the participating fellows, said that he was quite anxious when going to the JAS 3. “However, having participated in it, I have gained clarity into my data, and my confidence has been restored. The facilitators have challenged my thinking and presented various perspectives of addressing the data analysis in ways that I may not necessarily have thought of or lacked the skill to do. They have given of their time and expertise, even outside the scheduled times, and have assisted and guided me to look deeper into my data analysis and my manuscript,” he said.

Lebogang feels that the seminar has been a fruitful experience that will add value to his PhD journey. “With all this input and guidance, I am assured that my final output will be of good quality,” he said.

The JAS 3 Residential sessions will begin on February 15-27, 2021. Fellows will be accommodated at a common facility in their home countries. The residential stay is meant to minimize exposure during international travel and maximize protected time for fellows to advance their PhD protocols.

For ages, scientists have dutifully undertaken the task of solving the problems facing humanity through research. However, to no small extent, their findings do not always reach the wider public to which the problem-solving endeavor is intended to benefit. This could be partly due to the scientists’ lack of skills to communicate their findings to an audience that isn’t their peers, including the public and policymakers.

To address this issue, at least in Africa and specifically within its partner institutions, the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA) partnered with SciDev.net, supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to offer research communication workshops to scientists. The workshops were hosted by Obafemi Awolowo University and the University of the Witwatersrand for researchers in those institutions. Initially planned to be held face-to-face, the events had to transition to online learning due to the global pandemic. The two-day workshops, which attracted up to 25 participants each, provided the skills and built the capacity for CARTA fellows, graduates, focal persons, and larger partner institutions. The participants had time to go over the e-learning modules at their own pace in the morning and attended a synchronous session with a communications expert in the evening.

As a follow-up, an online media networking event for the researchers and CARTA fellows was held in November and December 2020 at each of the institutions. The main goal was to enable the researchers to practice how to communicate their work and explain the story behind their research to the journalists present. The researchers also had an opportunity to pitch to experienced Nigerian and South African science journalists.

Dr. Charles Wendo, a renowned science journalist, SciDev.Net training coordinator, and media trainer who hosted and facilitated the event, spoke of media contacts’ importance.  “It is one thing to know how to communicate your research. It is another to have a network of journalists that can potentially report on your findings. As a researcher, know how to identify research issues that are of public interest, then seek the right journalist/s to disseminate your work,” he said.                       

Dr. Wendo further advised the researchers to pitch to a journalist ‘that which is interesting and urgent’ and not present all their research findings at once. He also advised them to make research findings relatable to the public for the journalist to pay attention to it.

Researchers’ training on media skills is integral in ensuring that they better articulate the findings of their work. This will enable such findings to reach a wider audience and elicit interest from the public, which is key to embracing it.

The CARTA program was developed to address the training and retention of the next generation of academics at African academic institutions. Our fellows—staff of partner institutions—who come from various disciplines, such as public health, demography, anthropology, communication, and economics, among others, are bound by research that contributes to public and population health issues in Africa. 

Central to the training program for CARTA fellows is a series of seminars referred to as residential Joint Advanced Seminars (JAS). They are designed to enhance the fellows’ skills and knowledge; guide and propel them through the research process; and provide a foundation for building networks of researchers, peers, and mentors. The residential training offers the advantage of getting the fellows to focus entirely on specific program tasks, learn collaboratively, interact with local and international facilitators, and develop and consolidate professional networks. The JASes are offered to each cohort for four weeks, two in the first year, one in the third year, and one at the beginning of the fourth year of fellowship,  in a bid to build skills and conceptual depth throughout the program.

Just like the whole world interrupted non-essential traveling, CARTA had to adapt its training during 2020 to make it feasible during the pandemic. In the first phase of the adapted JAS2 last November, the fellows had two weeks of light on-line engagement and two intense weeks of on-line learning with residential stays within their regions to minimize exposure during the pandemic period but maximize protected time to advance in their PhD protocols.

Joint Advanced Seminar 2

JAS 2 aims to equip the fellows with the skills necessary to generate, manage, and analyze quantitative and qualitative data and select the appropriate research study design for their chosen study. Furthermore, it enables them to state the limitation of various research methodologies, critically review research articles and presentations, and analyze and synthesize research data to produce a conference-quality poster.

Jude Igumbor, a CARTA Focal person at the University of the Witwatersrand, is central in the organization JAS 2. He terms it as “one of the most challenging JASes for CARTA fellows as they are expected to form a novel research idea worthy of a PhD, using appropriate study designs and methodologies.” He explains that this is because of each cohort’s ‘multi-disciplinarity’ in the early developmental stage of their academic career and abilities.

The recent JAS 2 was a virtual event that began on November 2, 2020. One Cohort Nine fellow and 25 Cohort Ten fellows from Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda participated in the online sessions.

For Justin Kumala, a CARTA fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand, who was also involved in the organization, there was a lot of uncertainty, initially.  “It called for a lot of testing and adjusting on our part to ascertain readiness. I have been privileged to participate in the planning of JAS 2 at Wits since 2017, and every JAS has been unique. This time around, there was a lot of teleconferencing than perhaps in all those years combined,” he said. Kumala hopes that after JAS 2, fellows will have a good sense of direction for their planned research and can prepare for implementation. “As organizers, we wanted to see that every fellow got the support they needed to refine their PhD research idea.

Igumbor sees the benefits of a virtual JAS 2 and is optimistic about a brighter virtual future for the JAS.  He says that the virtual space allows the cost and logistical efficiency of including more stakeholders and experts. “We have tried to develop contingencies based on our university e-learning experience in the last seven months. The lessons from this first virtual JAS can be used to develop seamlessly blended JAS events in the future,” he said.

JAS 2 will continue in March 2021.

CARTA has contributed to the development of a vibrant African academy capable of leading world-class multidisciplinary research that positively impacts on public and population health. Its work has been highlighted on various media platforms over the years.
This past year, CARTA fellows, graduates, and focal persons have contributed to and published several articles about their work and that of CARTA in various news outlets, including The conversation, Standard Media Group (Kenya), Medical Express, US News, and World Report, Modern Ghana, Africa Eye Report.
The media is an integral part of communicating the scientific findings and impact of the work that CARTA and its fellows, graduates, and focal persons are doing. Its communication ensures that the public is aware of advancements and developments in public and population health by African researchers.

Articles published by media outlets in 2020

By Fellows and Graduates

The Conversation, Africa’s research ecosystem needs a culture of mentoring, Oluwaseyi Dolapo Somefun & Kudus Adebayo, August 04, 2020, link (ODS and KA are CARTA graduates)

Event Bright, Chronicles of Researchers during COVID-19 Lockdown, Ayodele John Alonge August 05, 2020, link (AJA is a CARTA graduate)

Mawazo Institute, Teaching Researchers How to Communicate their Work with Non-Experts, Naliaka Odera, featuring Macellina Yinyinade September 10, 2020, link (MY is a CARTA graduate)

The Conversation, Lessons from a diabetes clinic in Malawi: why everyone should follow a healthy diet, Chimwemwe Kwanjo Banda & Adamson S. Muula, August 17, 2020, link (CK is a CARTA fellow and ASM is a CARTA focal person at University of Malawi) (CKB is a CARTA fellow)

The Conversation, What can be done to better support women pursuing their PhDs in Africa, Anne Khisa, September 21, 2020, link (Republished by Africa Eye Report and Standard Newspaper, Kenya) (AK is a CARTA Graduate)

The Conversation, The benefits of integrating the diagnosis of depression and diabetes treatment, Michael Udedi & Adamson S. Muula, October 27, 2020, link (republished by Modern Ghana)

The Conversation, Let’s not talk about sex: insights into how Kenyan parents talk to their teens, Beatrice Maina, October 15, 2020, link (Republished by Modern Ghana) (BM is a CARTA fellow)

The Conversation, How to get Malawian men more involved in antenatal care – and why it matters, Alinane Linda Nyondo-Mipando & Adamson S. Muula, October 27, 2020, link (republished by Modern Ghana) (ALN is a CARTA Graduate)

By Focal Persons 

The Conversation, Malaria still kills 1,100 a day. It can’t afford to lose resources to coronavirus, Fredros Okumu  April 23, 2020, link (FO is a CARTA focal person at Ifakara Health Institute)

The Conversation, Mobile technology can improve access to healthcare in Nigeria if it’s regulated, Funke Fayehun, Akinyinka Omigbodun, & Eme Theodora Owoaje Patricia Nduli,  May 06, 2020, link (FF and AO are CARTA focal persons at University of Ibadan)

The Conversation, African health research needs support: here’s one programme that’s working, Jude Igumbor, August 31, 2020, link (JI is a CARTA focal persons at University of the Witwatersrand)

Medical Xpress, African health research needs support: here’s one programme that’s working, Jude Igumbor,  September 01, 2020, link (JI is a CARTA focal persons at University of the Witwatersrand)

US News & World Report, The Programs Boosting Health Research Across Africa, Jude Igumbor, September 01, 2020, link (JI is a CARTA focal persons at University of the Witwatersrand)

SAFM-Late Night Conversations, Health Conversations: African health research needs support: here’s one programme that’s working, Patricia Nduli interviewing Jude Igumbor, September 10 2020, link (JI is a CARTA focal persons at University of the Witwatersrand)

The Conversation, How lockdowns affected health access in African and Asian slums, Funke Fayehun, Frances Griffiths and Bronwyn Harris, October 22, 2020 link

The Conversation, #EndSARS, How Nigeria can tap into its youthful population, Funke Fayehun and Prof. Uche Isiugo-Abanihe,  October 25, 2020, link

By Co-Directors

The Conversation, COVID-19 shows that where there is political will there is a way to work across sectors, Lungiswa Nkonki & Sharon Fonn, April 29, 2020, link (SF is a CARTA co-director)

The Conversation, Sub-Saharan Africa needs to plug local knowledge gap to up its anti-COVID-19 game, Alex Ezeh & Sharon Fonn, May 27, 2020, link (SF is a CARTA co-director).

The Conversation, Africa’s research capacity is growing. That’s good news for pandemic response efforts, Sam Kinyanjui & Sharon Fonn, July 21, 2020, link (SF is a CARTA co-director)

Alexander Kagaha (Cohort Seven Fellow, University of the Witwatersrand) recently completed a writing retreat at a resort and retreat center in Uganda where he had been for one and a half months. The academic writing retreat offers researchers time to finalize their PhD dissertations, write manuscripts for publication, and prepare proposals for postdoctoral engagement. 

For Kagaha, his time in the retreat bore three manuscripts revised and accepted for publication by the Health policy and planning journal, the Women and Health journal, and the Anthropology and Medicine journal. Besides, he has now submitted his PhD dissertation and awaits the examiners’ reports. He also drafted his postdoctoral concept, which he plans to use to secure research funding opportunities.

Kagaha says the retreat has been an ambient environment for thinking, reading, and reflecting and that he has been able to concentrate with little distraction. “It is this stimulating environment that I am using to rethink the problems of materiality and the vitality of things, which I hope to investigate for my postdoctoral project,” he said. 

His academic writing retreat was fully funded by CARTA. “I am immensely grateful for it. I have also constantly received mentoring support from my supervisor, Professor Lenore Manderson. The mentorship has developed me into an academic who is also a research leader. I have been challenged to explore my potential beyond academics and seek to address the population and development concerns facing Africa,” he says. His postdoctoral research project aims to explore unimagined fields of the vitality and shared agency of life materials and non-human objects and the conception of technology assemblages.

“I take this opportunity to thank all the CARTA team for the support, all the technical, administrative, financial, and moral support that was rendered to us throughout the year,” said Kagaha. 

 

Justin Kumala, a CARTA fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand was involved in organizing the recent Joint Advanced Seminar (JAS) 2. He talks to us about the planning process, what is expected by and of the fellows, and what it took to organize it virtually.

What was involved in planning and preparing for the joint advanced seminar two this year? What was your role? 

It took virtual meetings, back and forth emails, University IT support, and many phone calls amongst team members and university personnel. This year’s JAS 2 was unique as it would be the first one to be run virtually. It called for a lot of testing and adjusting on our part to ascertain readiness. I have been privileged to participate in the planning of JAS 2 at Wits since 2017, and every JAS has been unique. This time around, there was a lot of teleconferencing than perhaps in all those years combined. A lot of uncertainty, too, as one might expect of all things where technology is central.

 What do you hope that the fellows will get out of it? Do you think you were successful as an organizer? 

After JAS 2, fellows would have a good sense of direction for their planned research and can prepare for implementation. As organizers, we wanted to see that every fellow got the support they needed to refine their PhD research idea. Having participated in JAS 2, I can relate and have witnessed firsthand what it sometimes means to feel lost, confused, or lack of direction. JAS 2 was designed to deal with that. We hoped that fellows would emerge with a clear and more coherent summary of their planned research by the end. I think we achieved that.

 What were the challenges of planning a seminar online, and what are the lessons you drew from the whole process?  

Internet dropouts, electricity load shedding, sometimes a slow computer, and the experience of working from home were all part of the process. However, it was an enjoyable experience for the more significant part.

Previously, I have sat in JAS planning meetings that sometimes took a whole day, notwithstanding the weeks and months of sit-in planning events. One thing that I have certainly taken away this year is that you do not have to be physically present to contribute to the JAS seminars, whether through logistical planning or facilitation. We all never sat at one place together and yet still delivered.

So, I think everyone can contribute to these seminars somehow, and as one who has been through the process, it makes the interaction much more meaningful to those just coming in. I can undoubtedly encourage CARTA to involve more fellows in this process.