In order to emphasize the importance of conducting relevant, ethical and impactful health research, the Botswana Harvard Health Partnership (BHP) and Trials of Excellence in Southern Africa (TESA) held a stakeholder and community engagement meeting on March 19, 2024 at Cresta President Hotel to foster a robust dialogue between researchers, research regulators, community representatives and study participants. 

The meeting objectives were;

  1. To facilitate dialogue and appreciate stakeholder and community perspectives on clinical trials
  2. Share and exchange insights on ongoing and past clinical trials,
  3. Identify successful, best practices and deficiencies or areas for improvement and,
  4. To learn from and appreciate clinical trial participants’ shared experiences to foster a deeper understanding of the clinical trial process.

The meeting brought together different stakeholders invested in advancing health research in Botswana. Attendees included researchers, health policy implementers, regulatory authorities, ethics review committee members, community advisory board members, community members, Non-Governmental Organisations, and current or previous clinical trials participants.

The meeting featured presentations from different organisations and testimonials from individual study participants who shared their experiences of being involved in clinical trials. Attendees engaged in interactive discussions on a range of topics including ethical considerations of health research, regulatory oversight of clinical trials, protection of participants, diversity and inclusion as well as strategies for promoting community involvement in the conduct of health research and in healthcare decision-making processes in general.

When presenting the BHP overview and synopsis of some the the BHP clinical trials, Dr. Gaerolwe Masheto, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the BHP, emphasized the importance of community engagement in shaping health policies and interventions tailored to meet the specific needs of the community.

"The success of our research relies on active participation and input from the communities and today’s engagement provide a platform for meaningful dialogue and collaboration, which will ultimately lead to more impactful health policies," he said.

TESA Coordinator at BHP, Tuelo Mogashoa giving a presentation
TESA Coordinator at BHP, Tuelo Mogashoa giving a presentation

TESA Coordinator at BHP, Tuelo Mogashoa, underscored the importance of building trust between all stakeholders involved in research. She highlighted that one of TESA’s objectives which is led by BHP, is to encourage, promote networking and dialogue between researchers, communities and policy makers to maximise the impact of clinical research in Africa.

Participants expressed happiness for the collaborative approach adopted by the BHP and TESA Consortium, emphasizing the need for continued engagement and partnership to address healthcare challenges.