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Digital Adherence

Ascent South Africa launches at randomization event

The ASCENT South Africa team recently held a successful randomization event which also served as the kick-off of the digital adherence technologies (DAT) project in South Africa. The ASCENT project, implemented by The Aurum Institute in South Africa, aims to help tuberculosis (TB) patients to successfully complete their course of treatment, using DATs and data-driven support interventions, utilizing tools as smart pill boxes.

The randomization event was attended by Dr Jens Levy, Senior Epidemiologist at KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation and Professor Katherine Fielding, Senior Statistician at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). They joined other delegates from the Department of Health (DoH) representatives from Gauteng Province, Tshwane District DoH staff, health facility managers, TB nurses and supportive staff from 36 clinics selected to take part in the project.

ASCENT South Africa project manager Nontobeko Ndlovu said the project was well received by the stakeholders who also took the opportunity to raise the struggles they experience in the Tshwane district with loss to follow up of their TB patients. This, they reported, worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “They appreciate and welcome these technologies that will contribute to resolving some of the district’s major challenges,” Ndlovu said.

About the DATs

Technologies included in the project are; a medication sleeve, where the patient receives their TB medication in customized packaging; a smart pill box, where the patient is provided with a specially designed box to store their TB medication; and lastly video supported treatment, where the patient records a video message using a customized app on their phone.

The randomization ceremony

Professor Fielding managed the randomization – a method of assigning health facilities to receive the intervention by chance alone- session with a presentation on the ASCENT trial design which is a pragmatic cluster randomized trial and the rationale for randomization.

ASCENT South Africa project manager Nontobeko Ndlovu said the project was well received by the stakeholders who also took the opportunity to raise the struggles they experience in the Tshwane district with loss to follow up of their TB patients. This, they reported, worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “They appreciate and welcome these technologies that will contribute to resolving some of the district’s major challenges,” Ndlovu said.

Professor Salome Charalambous, Aurum’s Deputy Chief Scientific Officer, led the randomization process. A total of 36 selected facilities were assigned to either the intervention group or the standard of care group. Eighteen facilities were assigned to the intervention group and the remaining eighteen facilities were assigned to the standard of care. Afterwards was determined which of the facilities in the intervention groups would receive the medication box and which ones would get the medication sleeve.

KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation is implementing ASCENT together with The Aurum InstituteLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and PATH.

Source: https://www.digitaladherence.org/ascent-south-africa-launches-at-randomization-event/ 


Digital Adherence

Empowering youth in South Africa through the Ascent project

The ASCENT team in South Africa has completed a training for the first group of interns that will take over research specific duties from the staff of healthcare facilities. This way the healthcare workers can focus on their patients. 

Nontobeko Ndlovu, ASCENT project manager in South Africa, said they are expecting to bring in more young people as part of the research team. They will focus on administrative and other research tasks and offer daily project support to the healthcare facility’s staff. The ASCENT project aims to help Tuberculosis (TB) patients to complete their treatment successfully through Digital Adherence Technology (DAT). By generating evidence, establishing a global market and engaging stakeholders, ASCENT ultimately makes a future scale up possible, so that these digital innovations can be available to more and more people effected by TB. The ASCENT project in South Africa is implemented by The Aurum Institute.

The interns

The interns, who are young people participating in Aurum’s youth empowerment program, Youth Health Africa, were trained on protocol including project delivery, differentiated pathways and adherence counseling, as well as how to use the Everwell platform. During the intensive training, they learned how to use, handle and store DATs and how to insert SOPs and Logs. The interns were challenged to implement what they had learned practically, by doing a role-playing exercise on administering informed consent. They were also trained on good clinical practice, which is a regulatory requirement for staff involved in human research activities.

The interns will be placed at healthcare facilities taking part in the project in Pretoria and Cape Town.

The informed consent training will also be added to the tablets which the healthcare facility staff will be using to capture data, as a quick and easily available reference should they need to take a patient through the process.

KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation is implementing ASCENT together with The Aurum InstituteLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and PATH.

Source: https://www.digitaladherence.org/empowering-youth-in-south-africa-through-the-ascent-project/ 


Digital Adherence

Ascent South Africa conducts site assessment visits

The ASCENT team in South Africa recently visited healthcare facilities as a part of the selection process for sites to be randomized to participate in the ASCENT project. During these visits, the team assessed each facility on their standard of care for Tuberculosis (TB) patients, as well as the TB notifications. This way the ASCENT South Africa team can identity which clinics have the highest TB burden, as those will benefit most from the intervention. 

The ASCENT project aims to support TB patients with their treatment in a modern and more effective way. Through the use of Digital Adherence Technologies, such as smart pill boxes, medication sleeves and video supported treatment, the treatment of TB patients becomes more regular and successful.

The Aurum Institute also held a meeting with partner organization ISIBANI, which is a sub-implementor of the ASCENT project. This was an information sharing session on the operationalization of the project.

KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation is implementing ASCENT together with The Aurum InstituteLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and PATH.

Source: https://www.digitaladherence.org/ascent-south-africa-conducts-site-assessment-visits/ 


Aurum acolhe novos membros do conselho de direcção

Aurum acolhe novos membros do conselho de direcção

The Aurum Institute acolhe três novos membros do seu Conselho de Direcção, todos eles com amplos conhecimentos e experiência.

O Dr Jerry Gule, Yaw Peprah e Paula Fray uniram-se recentemente ao Conselho da Aurum como directores não executivos, sob a liderança da Presidenta Phangisile Mtshali, que foi nomeada em Maio.

De acordo com Mtshali, as novas nomeações fazem parte do compromisso da Aurum na transformação e construção de uma equipa mais forte a todos os níveis. Ainda, ela manifestou que os novos membros não só impulsam a agenda de transformação da Aurum, mas aportam uma experiência inestimável e importantes capacidades e perspectivas.

Fazendo a diferença

Gule, um Executivo de Recursos Humanos, disse que o que atraiu-o para Aurum é o trabalho que a organização realiza para criar uma diferença na qualidade de vida de pessoas pertencentes à comunidades vulneráveis. “Existem causas na vida nas que eu acho justo estar envolvido. Embora a minha contribuição possa ser indirecta, sei que trago comigo a visão e o pensamento de alguém alheio, aos desafios com os que a organização tem que lidar.” Gule é CEO do Institute of People Management (IPM) e Presidente da South African Employers for Disability (SAE4D), uma organização sem ânimo de lucro formada por companhias de ponta para encorajar a inclusão das discapacidades no local de trabalho, e também da Love Trust, uma organização humanitária que promove a educação de qualidade para crianças vulneráveis em África do Sul. Ele elogiou o pessoal da Aurum pelo seu compromisso para influir positivamente nas vidas, salientando que é um privilégio para ele ser considerado parte da organização.

“É ainda mais emocionante estar completamente envolvido com os desafios e ter uma visão do que é possível para a organização, as suas gentes e aqueles aos que serve. Espero que a minha contribuição faça uma diferença. Espero que a minha experiência como líder em outros contextos irá agregar valor à Aurum,” disse Gule.

Ansioso para aprender

Revisor oficial de contas qualificado, Yaw Peprah tem experiência em Património Privado/Capital de Risco, assim como na avaliação e análise de planos de negócios e informação financeira, e na preparação de modelos financeiros. “Possuo uma mente que questiona de maneira natural, e espero que a minha formação como revisor de contas venha-me ajudar para apoiar à equipe. Estou também ansioso de aprender da grande experiência dos meus colegas do conselho,” manifestou.

Dar forma ao futuro

A especialista em média Paula Fray admira Aurum desde longa data pela sua inovação e a abordagem integrada da saúde. Ela trabalhou em meios de comunicação durante mais de três décadas como jornalista, editora, formadora e gestora de média. Actualmente, ela é a Directora Geral da organização pan-africana de formação em comunicação frayintermedia, fundada por ela em 2005. “Espero que a minha ampla experiência em África, Oriente Médio e Sudeste Asiático possa ser útil à organização na sua entrada em novos mercados para dar forma ao futuro da saúde global," disse Fray.