The scientific topic will be tuberculosis and HIV (TB/HIV) operational research with the aim of reducing the burden of HIV among TB patients and TB among people living with HIV by using operational research (OR) and its findings to improve health services. The rationale for this selection is the inclusion of TB/HIV activities in the PEPFAR 2013 COP guidance, the Trans-NIH Plan for HIV-related research 2013, the Global Health initiative and the Fogarty Strategic plan 2008-12. South Africa has been listed as one of five countries globally with the highest TB/HIV concomitant burden (WHO 2012) and studies have shown prevalent and incident TB has a direct impact on mortality risk in HIV positive patients on HAART (Gupta PloS One 2013) and 20% of patients starting on HAART have undiagnosed TB (Bassett CID 2010). By doing OR, the TB/HIV co-epidemics can be addressed at ground level through engagement with service providers and academics. A description of the planning process: the goal of the planning grant is to finalise the strategy and operational plan for a D43 application which will assist the South African National TB and HIV Programmes to build a sustainable core of researchers to have a unified approach to OR as an integral component of the national effort to address service gaps in TB/HIV. In order to do this, we will do a situational analysis of institutions training in OR, a gap analysis of challenges in ad priorities for OR, assess the skills and capacity of researchers interested in OR and collect data and information on resources spent on OR. We will consult with all stakeholders including academic institutions and the Department of Health as to the ideal training platform and if the training programme should be credit bearing, in order to formalize a sustainable organizational structure for OR. Furthermore, we will develop a plan to measure the capacity of the trainees, track their careers after the training and develop an evaluation and monitoring plan to track changes in management and policy attributable to the research. We will also discuss with the Department of Health strategies to recruit trainees and identify and collaborate with other training groups. Finally we will identify resources for sustaining the training and write and submi an application in response to the D43 FOA. Our base is the Desmond Tutu TB Centre (Stellenbosch University) in South Africa.
At the Desmond Tutu TB Centre (Stellenbosch University) in South Africa, we aim to train healthcare workers and academics in TB/HIV operational research in order to address knowledge gaps in the South African National TB and HIV programmes. The public health relevance will be the building of an operational research network of healthcare workers throughout South Africa with the necessary skills and capacity to address key research questions in order to reduce the burden of HIV among TB patients and the burden of TB among people living with HIV.