Stories from the Field

 
 
 
 

While the Global Network has been run by many of the same faces for almost 20 years, new researchers joining the Network leadership ensure innovative ways of thinking, new scientific approaches, and the sustainability of the Network itself. In his primary days as a physician in Zambia, Dr. Musaku Mwenechanya saw the influence of socioeconomic status on the development of disease in young children in the field and realized that working in a hospital was only at the tail end of public health. He began to understand that solving deeper health problems required low cost, high impact community interventions at the primary health care level, which is what the Global Network is all about.

 
 

RTI: How did you become involved in the Global Network?

Dr. Mwenechanya: I began collaborating with the Global Network as a study physician during the BRAIN and Complimentary Feeding studies 7 years ago. I became interested in the community engagement and research concept behind the work, and over time became an integral part of the Zambia GN03 team as the Study Coordinator.

 

How have you seen the network develop over the last 7 years?

Dr. Mwenechanya: The most significant change of the trials to be from lower level studies to doing clinical trials. The Global Network hit the clinical trials world by storm, beginning with the first publication of ASPIRIN in The Lancet! As the lead site for the latest A-PLUS Study, we are looking forward to seeing the progress and outcomes of this new trial and its contribution to the standard of maternal and neonatal care worldwide.

 

What are the barriers to healthcare and specifically Maternal and Child Health faced in Zambia?

Dr. Mwenechanya: Zambia has many structural barriers to healthcare common to sub-Saharan Africa, including a significant lack of health infrastructure, equipment and health care workers. However, over the past 10 years we have seen an improvement in infrastructure and increased resources from the government to change this situation. Health posts are being constructed closer to communities, thereby reducing the burden of transportation to a health facility and making services more accessible to residents. Neonatal and maternal mortality in Zambia, though demonstrating a reduction over the last decade, remains unacceptably and we hope to accelerate the decline by collaborating with the government to implement policy based on Global Network research findings.

 
 

How has working with the Global Network influenced Maternal and Child Health Care in Zambia?

Dr. Mwenechanya: From the bottom-up, the Global Network is having a substantial impact on healthcare in Zambia. The Network’s emphasis on continuum of care throughout antepartum, peripartum and post-partum care is both a way for participants to trust the Global Network team and an indicator of the richness of data collected. After almost 10 years participating in the Maternal Child Health Registry, I believe that the findings of the Global Network can be used to influence future government policies. Specifically, the MNCH Registry has shown that bringing mothers to facilities for their ANC appointment earlier during pregnancy, delivering babies in health facilities with skilled heath care workers, and training staff on neonatal resuscitation has contributed to the decline in morbidity and mortality outcomes of mothers and newborns. I am hopeful that the strong data from the Global Network trials in addition to the political efforts of the Zambian government in prioritizing access to health care services will help Zambia to obtain significant strides in the quality of health services provided to mothers and babies.

“The Global Network is here!” are cries Dr. Mwenechanya and his team of researchers often hear in rural villages outside of Lusaka, Zambia.
 

What do you believe the impact of collaborating with sites around the world in conducting Maternal and Child Health Care trials has been to the Global Network’s success?

Dr. Mwenechanya: Working with the Global Network has shown me the fundamental similarities that humans everywhere have alongside the stark differences in infrastructure and its effect on global health care. Seeing the established network of community health workers and comprehensive diagnostic equipment in the India sites drives my ambition to see such high quality of healthcare in my own country.

 
 
 
 

During Dr. Mwenechanya’s years working in the clinical field, the Global Network Zambia team has identified significant local barriers to healthcare and intends to collaborate with their government to develop policy and sustainable solutions affecting critical maternal and child outcomes. Dr. Mwenechanya noted the privilege it has been to interact with leaders in the Maternal and Child Health research sector and even looks forward to the day when he is one of the more experienced researchers coaching and mentoring new minds in the Global Network.

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