By Tapela Morapedi
The Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) SANTHE-funded PhD student, Lucy Mupfumi, has collaborated with Eh!woza, a media from Cape Town to conduct a community engagement project with adolescents in Gaborone. Lucy was one of 13 doctoral and postdoctoral fellowswho were awarded seed funding from the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) to carry out community and public engagement projects in their settings. According to AAS, these engagement projects are geared towards moving African Science towards people-centred approaches of conducting research that promotes societal impact of health research.
Lucy’s project titled “Adolescent Advocacy Can End TB (AaCeT)” anchors on BHP’s resolve to strengthen community engagement to educate the public on health research using innovative approaches for different audiences. Her proposed work seeks to increase awareness about TB among adolescents in Botswana through participant-led production of short stories or Television Documentaries that can subsequently be shared with other high school learners. She worked with her collaborating partners, Eh!woza, to train adolescents on story telling and video production over a 10-day period from 27thJanuary to the 7thof February 2020. At the end of the workshop, the adolescent-produced stories were edited into one documentary that was shared with a group of high school learners to spread awareness on TB and HIV.
The media training workshop with adolescents participants followed a stakeholder engagement meeting held on the 4thof December 2019 at Cresta President Hotel to discuss proposal. Community and public engagement is an increasingly important area of biomedical research to allow researchers to engage with the communit in which they conduct research. This project will document the understanding, perspectives and experience of young people HIV and TB.
Participants at the stakeholder meeting included teachers and learners from Molefhi Senior Secondary School, Gaborone Secondary School (GSS), Maruula School, officials form the National TB Programme at the Ministry of Health and Wellness and Save the Children Homes (SOS). A patient activist was also in attendance and shared her personal journey with TB. A lot of interest was generated amongst both the learners and teachers the project. In addition, all the invited guest expressed interest to return for the final meeting planned for 25thof March 2020 where results of the engagement activities with adolescents will be shared.
Lucy’s media partners, Eh!woza, is a public engagement project that forms collaboration between biomedical researchers, concept artists, anthropologist, NGO’s, musicians and young people living with Khayelitsha, a township in Cape Town. The project covers public engagement, youth education and advocacy with the ultimate aim of decreasing stigma and encouraging positive health and behavior.