Late last year, TREAT TB hosted a webinar aimed at strengthening capacity to conduct high-quality clinical trials for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). This webinar focussed on issues relating to community engagement in MDR-TB clinical trials and featured a presentation from Dr. Ezio Tavora dos Santos Filho, STREAM Community Engagement Coordinator from REDE-TB, followed by a question and answer session. Approximately 40 participants from various organisations including TB Alliance, SPRINT TB, Vital Strategies, and REDE-TB, as well as Community Advisory Board (CAB) members from several STREAM sites took part in this session. 

Dr. Tavora explained that community engagement not only facilitates communication but also encourages cooperation among multiple stakeholders, including affected communities, researchers, developers, and governments. It aims to bridge the gap between the community and researchers and, as a result, provides the optimal environment for the successful implementation of a clinical trial.

Dr. Tavora highlighted the fact that community engagement is an ethical requirement and serves as an accountability mechanism to society, governments and donors, study participants and affected communities. As such, community engagement should be included as part of all clinical trials, however this is often rarely the case. In order to increase the practice of community engagement in clinical trials, it is paramount that we raise awareness among the research community about the importance and benefits of community engagement.

In order to successfully include community engagement in a trial, it is important to engage the community early and throughout the duration of the research process. The webinar highlighted the importance of avoiding jargon and using clear and transparent language. Furthermore, Dr. Tavora explained that it is essential that community members have a say in the research agenda and that the results of the trial are shared and discussed with communities, even if they are not what were expected.  

Community engagement provides important insight for trial implementers regarding the local context and need within the community. This webinar highlighted the role of the CAB as an effective way to implement community engagement and used the STREAM CABs as a positive example.

To watch the full webinar and find Dr. Tavora’s presentation, please click here.

TREAT TB’s MDR-TB clinical trial capacity building webinar series will continue over the coming months, with webinars scheduled for February, March, and May 2019. Future topics to be addressed include regulatory requirements, institutional review boards and ethics approval, and laboratory strengthening, among others.

To listen to the latest webinar, please click here.  

To read more about the TREAT TB project, click here.