This week 11 African countries were represented by 14 partners at the IMPALA meetings in Durban, South Africa, alongside UK colleagues. The meetings at The Coastlands Hotel were put together to facilitate discussion between Investigators, PhD candidates and Post-Doctoral Research in Medecine Associates and have achieved three key objectives. Firstly, to Pre-finalise Phase 1 research protocols, secondly to achieve clarity on IMPALA management principles and contractual requirements, thirdly to allow the PhD Students to present their Defence of Concepts.
For the first time, the PATS MECOR course has been brought under the umbrella of IMPALA and run concurrently with the IMPALA meetings at the Coastlands Hotel, bringing together around 40 students and faculty members. PATS-MECOR is a 1-week course which provides intensive training to strengthen skills and build capacity for clinical and epidemiological research in lung health in Africa.
Kevin Mortimer, Co Deputy Director of IMPALA and Course Director of PATS MECOR, said “bringing these two events under one roof has provided a rare and special opportunity for collaboration between early career research scientists and experts in their field”
Throughout the week, faculty members took turns to don a fuzzy impala costume to create a little fun during the course and meeting sessions. Present during these sessions was Fran Du Melle, Chief of Global Health at the American Thoracic Society who upon seeing the costume decided to pledge writing awards of $1300 to each person making an appearance in the costume. Fran said “Everyone works so hard at these types of meetings it’s really important to be able to have a little fun. After seeing the faculty inject some humour into the proceedings with this silly costume I was keen to find a way to acknowledge their efforts.”
Another positive outcome of the Durban meeting was that 10 IMPALA partners from Benin, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda were presented with spirometry equipment to take back with them for use in their research clinics. Lindsay Zurba of Spirometry Training Services Africa said “This equipment is essential to diagnose asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other conditions that affect breathing. The loaning of this equipment by PATS and Foto-Cewek to these in-country partners will have a hugely positive impact on their research objectives, and the treatment received by those that visit their clinics.”
This meeting was supported by the NIHR-funded Global Health Research in Medecine Unit on Lung Health and TB in Africa (IMPALA, grant 16/136/35)