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DGHI/KCMC Symposium Addresses Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission

May 30, 2017
Blandina Mmbaga Presents at Symposium
Blandina Mmbaga, director of the Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute, presents at the symposium.

On May 26, the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) co-hosted a symposium at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Moshi, Tanzania, to share ongoing research on prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in Tanzania.  

The symposium brought together a range of stakeholders to discuss how research might best inform the implementation of the national PMTCT guidelines in Tanzania. Panels included updates on PMTCT policy guidelines, training and routine data collection, implementation science research on PMTCT care delivery, and presentations of ongoing research by KCMC students and trainees. Representatives from the Ministry of Health, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and local health facilities participated.

Tanzania has shown significant progress in the delivery of PMTCT services, which hold the potential to eliminate perinatal HIV infections, improve the health of women living with HIV and prevent the forward transmission of HIV. Symposium participants considered the implementation challenges in the delivery of quality services, the research evidence needed to inform implementation and the opportunities to use research findings to improve and sustain implementation. 

Blandina Mmbaga, director of the Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute, and Melissa Watt, assistant research professor of global health at DGHI, organized the symposium to connect researchers, policy makers and care providers working on PMTCT services. Mmbaga and Watt are currently conducting a two-year study examining the implementation of the national PMTCT guidelines in nine clinics in the Kilimanjaro region. 

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study combines patient-, provider- and system-level perspectives to examine implementation, with particular attention on patients’ long-term retention in care from pregnancy and through the postpartum period. The goal of the study is to identify implementation opportunities to improve retention in care throughout the PMTCT continuum.

“The meeting was an important step in closing the research-implementation gap in PMTCT care,” Watt noted. “The reason we do research is to improve care delivery and patient outcomes, and this symposium offered an opportunity to reflect on how we can make sure our research is serving that goal.” 

Mmbaga said that she hopes the symposium will be offered on an annual basis to take stock of emerging research findings, identify pressing research questions and identify opportunities to translate research into practice.

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Mmbaga and Watt Research Team
Research team led by Blandina Mmbaga (in red) and Melissa Watt (in back, third from right).

The reason we do research is to improve care delivery and patient outcomes, and this symposium offered an opportunity to reflect on how we can make sure our research is serving that goal.

Melissa Watt, assistant research professor

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