In March 2017, the AFENET board of directors made a resolution to strengthen scientific writing in member field epidemiology training programs (FETPs). The board also decided that the mentorship of this work will be provided by Dr. Peter Nsubuga, a consultant medical epidemiologist of Global Public Health Solutions. The project was to be piloted in advanced FETPs in seven member countries (Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda).
The main objective of the project is to strengthen documentation of field epidemiology experiences among AFENET member programs and dissemination of the findings and lessons learnt within the region and beyond. This is expected to increase the network’s scientific visibility, impact and accountability; ultimately contributing to achieving the network’s goals.
The specific objectives of this one year project are 1) to increase the number of scientific publications by member programs in peer reviewed journals, 2) to broaden the scope of the AFENET’s scientific and communication mechanisms and products.
Under this project, AFENET recruited a scientific writer to support each of the pilot FETPs (2 for Uganda and 2 for Kenya) in May 2017. These work hand in hand with the epidemiologist in charge of scientific writing, who is based at the AFENET secretariat. She came on board on board in July 2017. The scientific writing portfolio is to spearhead documentation and dissemination of various projects and activities within the AFENET secretariat and the entire network and contribute to the generation of concepts, expression of interest or proposals in the case of new initiatives.
The minimum number of peer reviewed publications (only first author considered) in a given year according to CDC guidelines is the number of residents that graduated in the previous cohort, in addition to a paper about the program. The program paper showcases where the program is and shows how “alive” the program is. All papers should be published in journals that are tracked by pubmed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/. When possible, FETPS could publish supplements in peer reviewed journals that profile the full work of the programs.
The project will also work to ensure that AFENET’s website is improved to appropriately feature and highlight the network’s work and profile, in addition to supporting FETPs to improve or develop their own websites allowing interconnectivity and linkage.
• An orientation workshop was held in Kampala in May 2017 for the scientific writers which kick started the development of papers about the respective FETP programs.
• 3 FETPs (Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Kenya) have held scientific writing workshops since May 2017. Mozambique is implementing a phased approach whereby scientific writing is taught in sections.
• Journal Publications: 14 papers have been published, 12 papers have been submitted to journals and await feedback and several papers are under development (information from 4 programs). Two supplements (for Kenya and Ghana) have been scheduled to be published in the Pan African Medical journal (PAMJ).
• Conference presentations: 135 abstracts from AFENET member FETPs were accepted for presentation at the recent 9th TEPHINET scientific global conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
• Some programs do not have resources to organize scientific writing workshops, a strategy critical in kick-starting and pushing several papers into good drafts for review.
• Changing the residents’ low interest and negative attitude towards scientific writing.
Coordinator: Dr Christine Kihembo