ADAPT Eight-Week Course, 2007
During two four-week blocks of face-to-face teaching in Botswana, in May 2007, 27 participants from government, universities and NGOs from 14 countries in the SADC region received intensive, hands-on training on the fundamentals of epidemiology and statistics for health research and planning, with a focus on randomized control trials (RCTs). RCTs are currently considered the most reliable way to obtain scientific evidence on the effectiveness of health interventions. In population-based RCTs, populations are randomly assigned to intervention and control groups. People in intervention groups are exposed to a set of programs or actions to see how effective these are –e.g. door-to-door AIDS education campaigns. Those in the control groups get either no intervention or some standard ones –e.g. school-based AIDS education — until the effectiveness of the intervention has been demonstrated.
Between the first and the second four-week sessions of the course, ten of the 14 participating countries conducted national household and school-based evaluations of the impact of mass media on AIDS prevention. Course participants worked on training of field teams and data collection in their own countries.
During the second four-week session, in Botswana in November 2007, course participants analysed their national data, learned and applied mapping and knowledge translation techniques for policy and planning, based on the results of the 10 national surveys. The second teaching block also covered meta-analysis and the conduct and use of systematic reviews.
University partnerships across the region and with Canada are a cornerstone of the ADAPT programme. Teachers from the University of Botswana, University of Namibia, University of Zambia, Zimbabwe’s Masvingo State University and Ifakara Health Research and Development Centre participated to update their teaching on AIDS prevention trials. Prof Lehana Thabane of McMaster University collaborated in the RCT module.