[This text has been written by Núria Casamitjana and Teresa Machai, Training and Education Directors of ISGlobal and the Manhiça Health Research Centre (CISM), respectively. This is the third of a series of articles to commemorate the 25th anniversary of CISM].
We are all familiar with the scientific achievements of the Manhiça Health Research Centre (CISM). But have you ever stopped to think that these achievements would not have been possible without training activities to create and strengthen capacities at the institutional, local and national levels? The past 25 years have witnessed a collaborative effort to train the researchers, technical staff, managers and leaders—among others—who have enabled CISM to grow and, at the same time, contributed to the development of Mozambique’s health and research system.
We are all familiar with the scientific achievements of the CISM. But have you ever stopped to think that these achievements would not have been possible without training activities?
From the outset, CISM’s first director, Dr. Pedro L. Alonso, understood that the centre’s future would depend on a firm commitment to developing scientific and technical capacities, on the grounds that there can be no research without health care for the population and that both research and care must be leveraged to develop the necessary capacities—one of the great development challenges faced by low-income countries.
The Training Fellowship Programme was therefore designed to train young post-graduate researchers, physicians and other professionals. This programme offered participants the opportunity to earn a master’s degree and PhD, plus, in many cases, a chance to do post-doctoral work at some of the world’s most prestigious research centres. These young researchers, who continued doing research on the main diseases and health problems affecting their country’s population, have gone on to occupy leading research positions at CISM and other institutions in Mozambique, including Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM)—the country’s oldest university—as well as the National Institute of Health and the Ministry of Health.
CISM’s first director, Dr. Pedro L. Alonso, understood that there can be no research without health care for the population.
This training was made possible by the support of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the collaboration of CISM with Hospital Clínic and the University of Barcelona (UB), initially, and later with the Barcelona Centre for International Health Research (CRESIB) and ISGlobal. Within this collaboration framework, 15 young researchers from Mozambique have earned a PhD at the UB since the year 2000 and another four have done so at universities in Germany and Sweden. The beneficiaries of this programme include Dr. Ismail Mamudo, the first Mozambican PhD student at the UB and former dean of the Faculty of Medicine at UEM; Dr. Eusebio Macete, director of CISM from 2008 to 2021; Dr. Francisco Saúte, current director of CISM and former director of Mozambique’s National Malaria Control Programme; Dr. Esperanza Sevene, researcher at CISM and UEM; and Dr. Jahit Sacarlal, researcher and current dean of the Faculty of Medicine at UEM.
CISM’s first director, Dr. Pedro L. Alonso, understood that the centre’s future would depend on a firm commitment to developing scientific and technical capacities, on the grounds that there can be no research without health care for the population
This model of training and research capacity building proved successful , with a very low level of brain drain, always to other countries in the region. The model was subsequently expanded through collaboration with other universities at the national and international levels. This initiative has been further strengthened by the support of organisations such as the ”la Caixa” Foundation and the Gulbenkian Foundation, which fund international grants for post-graduate studies and post-doctoral fellowships.
Young researchers, who work on the main health problems affecting their country’s population, have gone on to occupy leading research positions at CISM and other institutions in Mozambique
In order to meet the needs of the various studies conducted at CISM, numerous training activities have also been provided for laboratory technicians, field workers and statisticians. Courses on good clinical practice (GCP), good clinical and laboratory practice (GCLP), quality management, project management, scientific research methodology, scientific writing, etc., have also been organised. These activities have contributed to the growth of the centre and the expansion of its laboratories—now among the country’s most prominent—as well as other departments, including demography, technology and data management, social sciences, and clinical practice.
At the same time, training has been a key factor in the development of collaborative networks for scientific research and training at the regional level. Examples include Trials of Excellence for Southern Africa (TESA)—which brings together partners from sub-Saharan African countries as well as institutions from northern countries (including ISGlobal)—and the PAMAfrica consortium, both of which are funded by the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).
Numerous training activities have been provided. In the photo, an English course.
On the subject of training, it is important to note that CISM’s collaboration with ISGlobal (and its precursor, CRESIB, from 2006 to 2011) and the UB has enabled the development of a successful and innovative partnership model for two-way mutual learning. To be sure, this collaboration has allowed numerous Mozambican researchers, technicians and managers to receive training. But we must also recognise that CISM has contributed to the education of many researchers and health professionals from Spain and other northern countries who received part of their training as global health researchers in Mozambique.
CISM has contributed to the education of many researchers and health professionals from Spain and other northern countries who received part of their training as global health researchers in Mozambique
Since the year 2000, 37 doctoral researchers from CRESIB and ISGlobal have earned a PhD at the UB in the context of research projects conducted at CISM on infectious diseases, maternal and child health, and other health problems affecting the population of Mozambique and sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, there are numerous health professionals (resident physicians and medical graduates), researchers and medical students—between 10 and 15 per year—as well as other professionals in health-related fields, who have benefited from the rotation programme established early on by CISM/Manhiça District Hospital and CRESIB/ISGlobal/Hospital Clínic/UB. In this sense, CISM can be seen an important incubator of skills and professional vocations in global health.
Sscientific growth of ISGlobal and the training of many of our current researchers would not have been possible without the mutual learning process of all these years collaborating with CISM.
It is only fair to mention that the scientific growth of CRESIB—and later ISGlobal—and the training of many of our current researchers, managers, and leaders of our programmes and initiatives in the areas of infectious disease and maternal and child health would not have been possible without the mutual learning process of all these years collaborating with CISM and other local institutions, including UEM, Manhiça District Hospital and Maputo Central Hospital.
The success of this collaborative training model has always been based on mutual respect and the principles of equitable partnership, with both parties learning and advancing their research together in order to achieve shared goals.