West African workshop

IDDO's WWARN hosted a successful workshop in West Africa aimed at improving researchers’ skills.

The aim of the workshops was two-fold; to train researchers in best practice of designing, conducting, analysing and reporting antimalarial drug clinical trials, and also to build expertise within the region.

WWARN workshop participants
Photo credit: Ibrahim KOLA

Delivered in partnership between WWARN, part of IDDO, and The Global Health Network (TGHN), the workshop took place at the Clinical Research Unit of Nanoro, Burkina Faso, between June 18 and 20, and was attended by more than 20 young and mid-career investigators, laboratory staff and data managers.

During the three-day workshop, led by Drs Paul Sondo, Lesley Workman and Elizabeth Allen, participants were given a step-by-step demonstration of the WWARN toolkit, and learned more about the benefits of standardised data collection and reusing data to generate reliable evidence to inform the malaria community on the factors affecting the efficacy of antimalarial medicines.

WWARN has developed a specialist free toolkit which provides researchers with a step-by-step guide on how to plan, design, execute and interpret malaria clinical trial results. Participants were also introduced to the breadth of further resources available. These include WWARN-TGHN’s  e-Learning training courses, the online procedures library, analytical tools (including the Parasite Clearance Estimator, In Vitro Analysis and Reporting Tool and Obare microscopy method calculator), literature reviews, the External Quality Assurance programme (EQA) and mapping tools, all of which can support researchers to develop and manage a malaria research project.

Paul Sondo said: “I gained a huge amount of knowledge and expertise during my 12-month WWARN Clinical Research and Development Fellowship and wanted to bring that learning back to West Africa.

“Through my work I gained insight into the importance of best practice in data collection and management, and understanding of the benefits of data harmonisation for the wider research community, both now and in the future.

“This project represents an important step forward in building expertise in West Africa. Whilst at WWARN I was given training and support which will be invaluable to my future work and I am now in a position to use this knowledge to develop the skills of early career researchers.

“Ultimately, this workshop will not only have benefited the 11 research institutions across West Africa that have taken part in the project, but the wider malaria community.”

Halidou Tinto, Head of the Clinical Research Unit of Nanoro, said: “The future of clinical research in Africa relies on effective training of young scientists. As a resource person who cares about strengthening clinical research capacity in West Africa, gathering early and mid-career researchers together in Nanoro and providing them with a training on the harmonized resources of WWARN’s toolkit is one of the highest honours.”

The workshop also facilitated networking opportunities for the investigators who travelled from institutions in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Gabon, Benin, and Senegal. Participants were assessed and supported by The Global Health Network’s Professional Development Scheme (PDS).

Paul Sondo completed a clinical research and development fellowship with IDDO and WWARN through the EDCTP/TDR Clinical Research and Development. WHO-TDR supported the organisation of the workshops to help address improve clinical research procedures and the share knowledge and skills he gained during his fellowship.