Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - MNSIRSES (Clinical and public health research to improve maternal, newborn health and to control sexually transmitted infections)

The overall aim of MNSIRSES is to establish a long lasting collaboration between Moroccan, South African and European research teams involved in clinical, epidemiological and public health research. This effort should ultimately lead to improved mother and child health and better control of sexual transmitted diseases. The project is therefore structured in seven work packages. The first and the seventh are crosscutting:
1. Management and coordination
2. Maternal & newborn health research
3. STI research
4. HPV research
5. Antibiotic resistance
6. Public health and social health protection
7. Clinical, epidemiological and public health research

This project is bringing partners together from Europe, Morocco and South Africa that have common research interests but that work in very different settings. Several partners have already been collaborating with each other but mainly on an ad hoc basis and not as a network.
The 4-year exchange programme consists of visits of young researchers (PhD candidates, postdocs) and senior researchers from EU partner countries to Morocco and South Africa and vice versa. Exchanges also include management staff.
MNSIRSES has set-up a management structure suited to the size of the project and the partnership (8 partners). This is based on the experience of the partners in previous large collaborative projects and lessons learnt. Several tools have been created to ensure the monitoring and the coordination of the project and between partners.

During this period, the MNSIRSES project has provided opportunities to strengthen partnerships between the European and non-European institutions involved and to know more about other organization systems.
The particular format of this project with exchanges funded but not research itself has proved more challenging than expected, especially for issues that need laboratory work and training. The response from ISGlobal, investing structural resources to support this project from a translational perspective, has opened exciting opportunities of collaboration between institutions with ambitious objectives, high likely impact in Moroccan health system, and long-lasting partnerships. As an example, in the context of the WP5 (Antibiotic resistance), ENSP and ISGlobal are working to boost an initiative to create a Moroccan antibiotic resistance surveillance network. The possible success of this ambitious initiative still requires a long path of intensive networking, searching funds and bringing in key stakeholders, but the first steps are very encouraging. On the other side, unexpected changes in national health priorities have hampered progresses in the WP about HPV and cervical cancer research (WP4). USMBA and ISGlobal, participants in this WP4, are taking advantage of the created network with the inclusion of ENSP experts in order to achieve the objectives of this WP.
The WP2, the most important (number of secondments and of deliverables), is following the planning and is on track and ended the first two years with the organization of an international Colloquium in Rabat (24-27 November 2015) leaded by ITM and ENSP. New research (gestational diabetes) has started and next studies are planned to start mid 2016, with still more intensive exchanges.
Due to several changes among the staff involved in WP3 (departure of Pr Colebunders, replacement of University of Southampton by UCL), the activities in this WP have been delayed. ITM is re-planning its WP3 activities. Several exchanges between UCL and UKZN have been organized over the first half of this project and they have led to the development of a protocol and securing funding to pilot STI testing as part of the Africa Centers Demographic surveillance platform. The ethic process for this has started and we anticipate building the capacity within the new Unified Institution of Africa Centre and KRith, supported by ITM and UCL to be able to conduct STI and microbiome testing in men and women in the next two years of this grant. We also plan to conduct a STI workshop in Durban at the end of the pilot to discuss the findings and build capacity to build the STI testing capacity into the demographic surveillance platform.
The WP6 is slowly but definitely progressing with a preliminary research carried out on the social protection of informal workers. The main researcher submitted his PhD proposal on the social protection theme last November 2015.
The WP7, as WP1, involves all the partners. The activities about training, which are the most important, are in progress and the results expected should be achieved at the end of the project. With the idea of learning-by-doing, the research activities will result of the training ones. For UCL, this has provides with several opportunities for senior and junior researchers to travel to the Africa Centre to build the capacity within UKZN to strengthen the maternal child and adolescent health program of work. This has enables the Unified Institute (The Africa Centre and KRith) to host HAYA, a research centre for adolescent health as well as to attract senior faculty with expertise in maternal and child health. Currently the Unified institute is applying for a strategic award to the Wellcome Trust for the next five years of activities and partly as a result of the capacity building through this grant there is a strong focus on improving maternal, child and adolescent health.

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