28 October, 2019

Report from the Field: 3rd Annual Meeting Antigua Guatemala 2019

The 3rd Annual NHLBI TREIN/Hy-TREC GRIT Consortium Workshop took place on September 5-7, 2019, in Guatemala City and Antigua, Guatemala with all eight member country representatives present. The theme of the meeting focused on Strengthening and Sustaining Implementation Science Research in Low and Middle-Income Countries

Members of the consortium standing on the stairs facing the camera smiling
The TREIN/Hy-TREC Consortium Members in Antigua Guatemala

The annual meeting was a fantastic opportunity to have an in-depth discussion on what is needed for sustained, streamlined, and strengthened Implementation Science Research (ISR) and systemic research capacity building programs in LMICs while taking advantage of the GRIT consortium infrastructure. We also discussed key components, barriers, and successful strategies for broadly building and sustaining capacity in LMICs

Empty auditorium arranged with water bottles and files in preparation for consortium members
Porta Hotel Auditorium Hall in Antigua Guatemala awaiting the arrival of consortium members

We started in Guatemala City with a symposium aimed at key stakeholders of the ministries of health of all Central America countries. There were presentations from American (3) and African (2) countries on experiences of the integration of prevention, detection, and management of chronic diseases in health systems. The executive secretary of the Council of Ministers of Health of Central America and the Dominican Republic brought up the importance of political commitment at the highest level and assured the adoption of hypertension as a key issue for the region. We emphasized the importance of political will, human resource and distribution, and working at different levels within the health systems

Consortium members sitting in an auditorium in a semi circle listening to a presentation
Day 1 Presentations- Dr. Mark Butler presenting on behalf of the coordinating center to the entire consortium

The meeting continued in Antigua, particularly with subcommittees (capacity building; publications; and joint research and data harmonization) and TREIN/HyTREC countries updates and breakout discussions

Some of the main points of discussion during the Hy-TREC Breakout Session were:

  • Feasibility of data harmonization across all sites despite the diversity of frameworks used throughout HyTREC projects
  • Identifying specific questions that could be answered through data harmonization
  • Conducting a Delphi exercise to identify implementation measure to focus on
  • Evaluating the implications of using frameworks developed in HICs and used in LIMCs, where there are potential hurdles with health systems, availability of drugs, and healthcare workforce
  • The protocol manuscripts should consider the inclusion of impact outcomes and implementation trials assessment
  • Context matters, exploring the role of culture, climate, diversity, and variability of settings

consortium members sitting down listening to one person speaking who is standing up
Day 2 Hy-TREC country break out session

Some of the main points of discussion during the TREIB Breakout Session were:

  • D43/ South-south collaboration should be drafted for the continuation of capacity building and the training curriculum should be integrated into the university curriculum
  • TREIN sites should also pool need assessment they conducted and look for areas that overlap
  • There is a need to identify and understand the audience (policymakers, media, etc.), which should feel ownership from the beginning of the process, and the strategies should be adjusted as needed
  • Dissemination of outcomes should be done from lower (local) to higher levels (regional, national, etc.), through dissemination symposiums and demonstration projects. These experiences might be published jointly in a needs assessment special issue

6 consortium members sitting at a round table holding discussions
Day 2 TREIN country break out sessionXX

We have published some of GRIT experience in a Global Heart Special issue, including the Kathmandu Declaration, and hope to be publishing two more manuscripts soon

Topics in future manuscripts will include:

  • Capacity building and training among GRIT consortium
  • Compiling short and long-term training opportunities
  • Identifying good practices across project sites; support south-south network strengthening
  • An exchange program of TREIN fellows to HyTREC sites
  • Publicizing training and sharing online resources

Furthermore, we have started looking for other grant applications among GRIT consortium members and we should seek for future research collaborations, such as K awards and a network infrastructure grant

The GRIT Coordinating Center has been a key player for the administrative and annual meeting coordination, as well as data harmonization. One essential tool for disseminating GRIT consortium work is our website which was launched around our annual meeting, as well as the use of other online resources like SAMEPAGE

A man sitting down with his back facing the camera and T-shirt displaying the full name of the consortium
The GRIT Consortium T-shirt worn by Dr. Tim Mercer at the bi-annual meeting

The team building activities (Mayan games) during the annual meeting brought people together and all attendees enjoyed it. The overall feeling for everyone was that it felt more like a consortium effort as opposed to just individual effort. Efforts on increasing the number of trainees present in the meeting (attending in person or virtually) is a priority for our next meeting in Ghana

Five people standing while one person plays a yoyo and the four other people encourage the person with laughter and smiles
Team building activity for Mayan children games played during the meeting

We agreed to do the 4th Annual TREIN/ HyTREC Consortium Workshop in Ghana (April 27-29, 2020), around the main topic of “Context matters: evidence from our consortium”

The entire consortium standing and some sitting as they smile at the camera with their hand up
The TREIN/Hy-TREC Consortium on the third and final day of the bi-annual meeting in Guatemala

See you there!