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LSHTM MSc students visit Zimbabwe

Over the past few weeks, we have had the pleasure of hosting a group of MSc students from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). All of these MSc students have been implementing their summer research projects embedded within various studies in THRU ZIM. Some of these students have given us some insight into their work and experience conducting research in Zimbabwe:

Marvi Mahesar

I’m a physician from Pakistan, currently enrolled in the MSc Tropical Medicine & International Health at LSHTM. I have come out to Harare for my MSc project, which is a secondary analysis of data from two studies conducted by THRU ZIM, VITALITY and IMVASK. The study aims to analyze data from these two cohorts, to investigate risk factors associated with fractures amongst adolescents living with HIV. My trip to Harare has been amazing! The entire team at THRU ZIM has been incredibly welcoming and very supportive of my project. I have also been on numerous field visits to Harare Central Hospital and nearby clinics, to observe data collection in real time for various studies including VITALITY, which has been a great learning experience. I couldn’t have hoped for a better team and a better place for my MSc project. I’m very grateful to both THRU ZIM and LSHTM for this incredible opportunity.

Catrin Thomas

I am an MSc student (2021-22) at LSHTM. I am in Zimbabwe for 7 weeks to complete my MSc project, titled 'Qualitative sub study investigating knowledge, health seeking behaviours and barriers to accessing services in those presenting with genital ulcers to clinics in Zimbabwe'. This project forms the qualitative component of the MAGUS study in Zimbabwe, a multi-country study looking at the aetiology of genital ulcers. Whilst in Zimbabwe, I will be working with the MAGUS team to conduct in-depth interviews of those presenting with genital ulcers. My experience of Zimbabwe so far has been overwhelmingly positive, I have been very welcomed into the THRU ZIM team and I look forward to the rest of my time here.

Romina Procel

I am currently doing an MSc Public Health for Development at LSHTM. I will conduct a secondary data analysis of the CHIEDZA trial to explore the association between HIV diagnosis and uptake of family planning services among young people in Zimbabwe. Being at THRU ZIM has been an enriching opportunity both professionally and personally. The possibility of seeing research on the ground has enabled me to understand better how theory translates into practice and continuously learn from a diverse body of experts. Also, seeing the intersectionalities of sexual and reproductive health in the context of Zimbabwe has allowed me to define my project better and deepen my interest in this field, particularly among the most vulnerable populations.

Alexis Rakochy

I am conducting a mixed methods sequential explanatory study for my project titled, ‘Mixed Methods Study on the Implications of COVID-19 on Youth General Health and Antiretroviral Adherence Counselling Uptake and Session Topics across 3 Provinces in Zimbabwe’. I am working with the CHIEDZA trial general health and antiretroviral adherence counselling notes, conducting analyses to determine uptake patterns (by sex, age, province) and the main issues brought up in counselling sessions. Any changes in uptake patterns and session topics which may have arisen due to the COVID lockdown are being investigated. After completing secondary data analysis, I will interview the CHIEDZA counsellors from each province to elucidate any barriers to uptake they perceived (generally and in relation to COVID), their interpretation of uptake trends, and their perceptions of major problems facing youth in relation to ARV adherence and general health. The aim of this study is to illuminate how the COVID pandemic may have changed counselling uptake and the issues youth face, with a view to inform further youth support interventions for HIV and general health. I have greatly enjoyed being able to gain a better understanding of the study setting, meeting the incredible THRU ZIM team, and exploring Harare with other MSc students.

Amani Patel

For my MSc Tropical Medicine & International Health programme, I will be working with data from the CHIEDZA trial, focusing on describing the HIV care cascade for clients newly diagnosed with HIV through CHIEDZA. I am conducting secondary data analysis for my project to describe outcomes along the care cascade and identify factors associated with each outcome. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Zimbabwe. The whole team has been so welcoming and friendly, which has made the whole experience even better than we’d hoped for. I hope to come back very soon to do some more work with the team at THRU ZIM. It’s been a pleasure to meet and work with everyone.

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