Zimbabwe Medical Research Council Official Awarded PhD from UKZN
Zimbabwe’s Medical Research Council Principal Compliance Officer, Dr Rosemary Musesengwa, graduated with a PhD in Public Health.
Her study was titled: “Community Engagement (CE) Strategies and Experiences in a Multi-Centre Study in South Africa and Zimbabwe” and was conducted in the uMkhanyakude area of KwaZulu-Natal and in the Gwanda District in Zimbabwe, under the supervision of College of Health Sciences Dean of Research, Professor Moses Chimbari.
‘My study evaluated and compared community engagement (CE) strategies employed by the Malaria and Bilharzia in Southern Africa (MABISA) multicentre research project,’ said Musesengwa. ‘My main outcome was the development of a CE framework for multicentre studies.’
She also conducted a systematic desk review of literature on CE in developing countries.
Musesengwa said the published review revealed evidence of CE being practised in health research in southern Africa but researchers rarely publish their CE work. To study the MABISA project’s CE a case study approach was used with each study site considered as the case to allow for direct comparison and contrast between the cases. She then proceeded to compare CE strategies employed by the MABISA study in their research communities, evaluated the perceptions of the community on the various components of the CE strategies and compared them with perceptions of the researchers.
‘Evaluation of the multicentre study showed that even though the general principles of CE and similar strategies were followed they differed in implementation and CE would not have similar results in different settings,’ said Musesengwa.
The study also revealed divergence between what the community understands of CE and the intentions of the researchers, ‘We concluded that CE in multicentre studies needs meticulous planning, commitment of human and financial resources and flexibility,’ said Musesengwa.‘
There is insufficient evidence to determine which CE strategy is more effective than the other but conducting extensive formative research allows for better engagement of the community,’ she said.
The greatest challenge during her PhD was leaving her family for long periods of time in order to conduct fieldwork, ‘Well, I am making up for the time now,’ said Musesengwa.
She said her family, who were all very proud of her, had been supportive all the way. ‘My mum and sisters made sure that my kids were always with a “mum” even when I was away. My husband was loving and patient and encouraging all the way!’
She was very grateful to UKZN – ‘it provides exactly the right environment for a PhD.’
Musesengwa starts work soon as post-doctoral researcher.