Strengthening Collaboration: MRCG at LSHTM and NLTBCP Annual Research Meeting

In a vibrant display of collaboration and research excellence, the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (MRCG at LSHTM) with key stakeholders from the Government of The Gambia representing different institutions including the Gambia National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Control Programme (NLTBCP) at the Ministry of Health, Directorate of Research, National Public Health Laboratories, and National Aid Secretariat, converged for an annual Tuberculosis (TB) research meeting on February 13th 2024 at the MRCG at LSHTM in Fajara.
MRCG at LSHTM and NLTBCP Annual Research Meeting

The multi-stakeholder consultative meeting on TB research presented an opportunity to share the 2023 Gambia TB Programme data, as well as the strategic objectives and research priorities of the NLTBCP as contained in the National Strategic Plan (2023 – 2027).

According to Professor Umberto D’Alessandro, Unit Director at MRCG at LSHTM, the meeting is invaluable as it provides a platform to listen to policymakers and understand the pressing questions emerging from the field and programs. This consultation, he said, is essential in shaping The Unit's research strategies moving forward.

"Every activity and research endeavor we undertake is driven by the aim of translating results into meaningful public health interventions. As researchers, there is nothing more fulfilling than witnessing our work contribute tangibly to reducing the burden of disease and making a positive impact on the country's health outcomes," he concluded.

Speaking on behalf of the Programme Manager, Mr Tijan Baldeh, Deputy Programme Manager of the NLTBCP at the Ministry of Health, highlighted the importance of MRCG’s collaboration with the Government, noting that, “over the years, MRCG at LSHTM has consistently supported the Ministry of Health in research and capacity building initiatives, and the Ministry looks forward to further enhancing this collaboration in the years to come."

"The fight against TB is undoubtedly challenging, especially without adequate laboratory support. MRCG at LSHTM has played a significant role in addressing this challenge. We are grateful for their assistance and eagerly anticipate a continued and fruitful partnership in our collective efforts to combat TB in The Gambia," he added.

Dr. Toyin Togun, Co-Director of the LSHTM TB Centre, underscored the importance of fostering partnerships between researchers and policymakers, all with the aim of enhancing the health outcomes of the communities we serve.

"We aspire to achieve our strategic objective of bolstering the partnership between MRCG at LSHTM and the National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Control Programme to effectively combat TB in The Gambia, ideally surpassing the 2025 target," he noted.

Professor Jayne Sutherland, Head of the TB Research Group at the MRCG at LSHTM emphasised that MRCG at LSHTM aligns with all the NLTBCP priorities including the diagnosis of TB in adults and children, active case finding, co-morbidities (such as HIV and diabetes), identifying drug-resistance to TB and accessing TB treatment in a timely manner to reduce transmission. “While our priorities are dependent on funding availability, our public health remit to seek, test and treat as many patients as possible, relies on our continued collaboration with the national TB program and our research informs future directions and priorities for TB control in The Gambia”, she concluded.

As part of the day-long meeting, senior TB researchers at the MRCG at LSHTM also provided insights into the Unit’s TB research programme covering adult and paediatric TB, as well as Multi-Drug Resistant TB. Students and early career researchers delivered an interactive poster presentation session on several ongoing TB research projects at the Unit.

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