Makerere University Medical School is one of the premier institutions carrying out medical training and research on the African continent Over the last two decades a strong network of research collaborations between Makerere University and other institutions from around the world has evolved. These collaborations have tremendously increased the research volume as well as benefited the local communities where most of the research is conducted. However, the design processes of the research agenda and the determination of research priorities have remained largely the domain of the scientific research Investigators from the academic community with limited input from local communities We propose to enhance the level of local community participation and appreciation of biomedical or behavioral research carried out from within their communities through holding a series of meetings, seminars and workshops. We will involve community representatives, local government officials, the different research institutions and post - doctoral students from Makerere University and the Ministry of Health officials in these meetings and workshops. We plan to employ a Community based participatory research(CBPR) specialist and use CBPR methods to understand the community needs, health disparities, priorities and community priority areas for research. We will also explore the current techniques used for dissemination of research information to the different community strata;using a SWOT analysis to identify the gaps existing within the current research development and dissemination techniques between the academic and local community partnerships. We will then summarize the findings from this CBPR exercise and highlight the most sustainable communication strategies for strengthening linkages between research scientists with the local communities. A symposium will then be held where we will present the community research priorities and present innovative strategies for dissemination of research information to the Academic community and the local community representatives. This grant provides a unique opportunity for strengthening the existing academic - community partnerships in Uganda and providing a channel through which the local community can be more involved in setting the research agenda, support scientific investigators in designing community - needed research projects and create a sustainable mechanism for dissemination of information. Ultimately, this relationship will make the academic community more relevant to the local communities and will lead to research that better addresses maternal, child and community health issues relevant to the community. This in turn will contribute to the reduction of pediatric and maternal morbidity/ mortality and improve overall health services in the community.
The proposed research will be relevant to public health because most of the research activities currently going on are mainly answering questions raised through Investigator - driven initiatives. This research will particularly bridge the gap between the academic and local communities especially in setting the research agenda in pediatric and maternal health questions. This will in the long term bring scientists to focus more on scientific questions which are priorities to the specific communities. Information gathered about the best communication strategies to link the academic and local communities will be extremely helpful in guiding the policy makers to channel the minimal available resources into more cost - effective strategies. The overall outcome of this research will greatly enhance the body of knowledge about interventions for reducing pediatric and maternal HIV by documentation of research priority areas in pediatric and maternal HIV prevention, as well as getting community input in identifying priority areas of research.