Last week, more than 30 STREAM community engagement (CE) participants from 13 sites in seven countries attended a two-day workshop in Hyderabad, India. Workshop participants met to develop a shared vision for STREAM community engagement, documenting their findings in a logic model for the program.

The workshop opened with participants identifying the main challenge CE aims to address and defining a common vision of what “success” looks like for community engagement in the STREAM trial. Although workshop participants represented a diverse group with varying experience with CE and clinical research, by the end of day one of the workshop, participants had agreed the most pressing challenges to be addressed by STREAM CE were limited research literacy and lack of stakeholder ownership of research.

CE members working together to identify the main challenges addressed by STREAM CE

Consensus regarding the main challenge to be addressed by STREAM CE framed the remainder of the workshop, which focused on how CE stakeholders can take ownership of research in order to ensure it is relevant and acceptable in the communities where it takes place and is used to inform policy and program change.

CE participants from sites in India, S. Africa and Ethiopia participating in small-group work

On the second day of the workshop, participants shared success stories and lessons learned from their CE activities since the start of STREAM. This helped build morale among CE participants and was an essential opportunity for participants to learn from each other and adapt successful strategies from one site to the realities of other sites. Participants ended the session by re-thinking the most appropriate activities they should implement to achieve maximum impact from CE at their sites, including a strong focus on training in Good Participatory Practices and development of strategies to enhance involvement in advocacy and policy change.

A highlight from the workshop was the participants’ newly identified focus on achieving long-term impact through community engagement – both during the STREAM trial and beyond. “We want to the see the research staff engaging with the community to form an integration between the two. This is the way forward for clinical research,” remarked Nomsa Ngwane, Community Liaison Officer at the STREAM site in Durban, South Africa.

Nompumelelo Motaung, CAB Member at the STREAM site in Durban, South Africa, speaking at the CE Workshop.

The final workshop session focused on identifying the main barriers to achieving the desired impact from STREAM community engagement so that participants can address them in their activities.    

Racheal Alele, CAB Member from the Makerere Lung Institute in Uganda, shared her site’s perspective on how best to achieve the objectives identified at the workshop. “In order to increase ownership of clinical research . . ., we intend to train CAB members on the new innovations and ideas discussed at this CE workshop… We also intend to work closely with district level health teams [DHTs] who represent the Ministry of Health at the district level in Uganda. If we train the DHTs, then we will promote cross-sector collaboration to spread knowledge and awareness of TB.  In the end, we want to increase the communications and advocacy skills of CAB members and DHTs so that we can all achieve the same goal.”

Ivan Kimuli and Racheal Alele from the Makerere Lung Institute in Uganda identify impactful CE activities

TREAT TB and STREAM will continue to support the creation of a sustainable, global CE network that works to ensure STREAM and TB research responds to the needs of the communities where it takes place. To read more about STREAM community engagement, click here.