The following interview is an excerpt from Dignitas International’s 2015 Annual Report.
Dr. Beatrice L.M. Mwagomba, National Program Manager of Non-Communicable Diseases & Mental Health, Malawi Ministry of Health.
“Too often research is conducted in Malawi but not utilized to improve our countries’ health policy and practice,” says Dr. Beatrice L.M. Mwagomba, the Ministry of Health’s National Program Manager of Non-Communicable Diseases & Mental Health.
“The evidence generated in Malawi gets published, but extremely busy policymakers can’t spend weeks on end reading and interpreting all of the new articles published on so many health challenges. We needed synthesized and contextualized policy briefs that bring together all the available global and local evidence on health priorities. This is where KTPMalawi has benefitted the country,” she adds.
Dr. Mwagomba has been involved in KTPMalawi, a Knowledge Translation Platform jointly developed by the Malawi Ministry of Health and Dignitas International to improve how heath sector research is used in the country. As an epidemiologist, Dr. Mwagomba understands how important it is to find innovative ways to bring people together to solve health challenges.
“There is limited coordination between researchers and policymakers, despite the volumes of medical research findings that are being produced each year within Malawi,” she says.
“KTPMalawi helps bridge this gap by bringing together all of the different actors in the health care sector to synthesize, disseminate, and exchange knowledge.”
When asked about Dignitas’ role in developing the KTPMalawi platform, she says:
“Since 2012, Dignitas International has played a big role in utilizing KTPMalawi to make positive changes in our health policies. In particular we have made significant strides in the integration of NCD and HIV care, which is a big priority for the Ministry of Health and my unit. “
Hypertension, for instance, affects about 32 per cent of the population, and is particularly common among patients living with HIV. Alarmingly, 94 per percent of all patients suffering from hypertension are unaware – and therefore go untreated. This makes integrated care especially urgent.
“Through KTPMalawi we have brought together researchers, policymakers and program implementers to discuss and coordinate NCD-HIV integration pilot programs throughout the country. This is generating high quality local evidence on how best to integrate these two important health priorities so that we can improve the care and treatment of patients suffering from both NCDs and HIV.”
On the overall influence and the future of the Knowledge Translation Platform, Dr. Mwagomba says:
“The current dialogue around HIV and NCD integration is the result of a process initiated and fostered by KTPMalawi, and I think it will help achieve much more in many health areas. I am proud of being a part of a local initiative that fits well into global initiatives.”
To read more stories from people that benefit from our work, please see our 2015 Annual Report.