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ENGAGEMENT: Ifakara briefs community, district leaders on research activities in Kilombero Valley

Feb. 18, 2023 From 8:00 hours EAT
ENGAGEMENT: Ifakara briefs community, district leaders on research activities in Kilombero Valley
The Community Engagement Coordinator for Ifakara Branch Faraji Abilahi briefs Malinyi District leaders during the engagement meeting held in Ifakara on February 18, 2023. PHOTO | IFAKARA/KMC

Research Scientists within the Ifakara Health Institute’s Environmental Health and Ecological Sciences (EHES) Department, on Saturday February 18, 2023, met with over 100 community and district leaders from Malinyi District, Morogoro Region to discuss the research activities currently implemented by the Institute within Kilombero Valley, Ifakara.

The meeting was the last of four Community and Stakeholders Engagement (CSE) meetings the researchers have been conducting in the region whereby they have successfully met with over 350 community and district leaders from 51 villages across 4 districts of Ulanga, Ifakara Town Council, Mlimba and Malinyi.

Ifakara Branch Manager, Frederick Masanja officiated the meeting which was held at the Ifakara offices in Mlabani. In his opening remarks, Mr. Masanja urged the leaders to take advantage of the meeting as an opportunity to engage with researchers and learn about the work the Institute does; reminding them that their contribution during such meetings is vital to the overall success of many projects the Institute implements.

Researchers within the EHES department have been conducting similar meetings since January of this year with the aim of increasing awareness among the community in Ifakara through dialogues and open discussions about the work of the Institute – highlighting the impact it has on improving the health and well-being of the people and in particular the community in Ifakara.

During the meeting, the research scientists showcased new projects the Institute is currently implementing with a focus on the ecology and transmission of infectious diseases through the development and testing of surveillance and control measures.

“Currently, ongoing projects mainly focus on researching methods for the identification of fungal pathogens, identifying the extent of rabies infection and providing vaccination, identifying the amount of malaria infection in the community, recognizing the importance of exercise and nutrients in the health and growth of school children, breeding and rearing of mosquitoes among other areas,” said Issa Mshani, a Research at Ifakara.

Additionally, the invited leaders also got to learn about the clinic for heart and lung diseases which is implemented by the Institute and partners; Charite University Hospital - Germany, and St Francis Referral hospital (SFRH) - Tanzania. The clinic, officially known as “The Else Kroner Centre for Heart and Lung Diseases (EKC-HLD),” is located within SFRH in Ifakara and is part of the hospital’s specialized clinics.

Evance Mahundi, a Clinician at the EKC-HLD clinic spoke about the services offered at the clinic which targets a population of one million people mainly in the Kilombero Valley and surrounding areas. The clinic aims to tackle the epidemic of non-communicable diseases.

Meanwhile, Lilian Moshi, a General Practitioner also informed the leaders about the Chronic Disease Clinic Project, Ifakara (CDCI), and the services it provides within the Ifakara community. Integrated into the St. Francis Referral Hospital (SFRH) at Ifakara, the CDCI aims to provide care and treatment for HIV/AIDS patients.

Ifakara Innovation Hub (IIH), led by Rachel Magodi, the Community Engagement Officer, was also in attendance and they too shared about their work and achievement. The hub is a community of inspiration, ideation and collaboration for solution development and aims to empower entrepreneurs and innovators to develop solutions to societal challenges and create growth and skilled jobs within Kilombero valley and beyond.

Speaking to the leaders during his closing remarks, the Public Engagement Coordinator at the Ifakara branch, Faraji Abilahi said, “A large part of our research projects involves the surrounding community and as an Institute we rely mostly on the community’s cooperation in data collection and implementation. Therefore, your presence, reaction and contribution during these meetings have been beneficial and we expect your full cooperation going forward, especially now that you understand the importance of our work on society.”

After the engagement meeting, the Community and District leaders paid a visit to the project sites within the Institute where current research activities are implemented. They visited the Laboratory, Vectorsphere site, Ifakara Innovation Hub offices, the CDCI and EKC-HLD clinics.

>> More photos from this event: https://ifakarahealthinstitute.smugmug.com/Community-engagement-Photos/