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Social Responsiveness

IDM Members, staff and students continue to be active in research linked to social activities and responsibilities within our local communities. 

Through the lens of anthropology, this research study makes use of this community engagement project to provide an ethnographic analysis of a youth-based initiative on TB, working with young people between the ages of 15-17 years recruited from a Khayelitsha-based educational NGO. Exposed to high impact biomedical research and provided with filming equipment and skills, the participating youth document the story of TB within their communities using the knowledge they acquire from the initiative.

The mGenAfrica platform is an innovative Internet-based platform and mobile application which has the following aims:

  1. For high school learners, to increase awareness and interest in careers in genomics and other life sciences fields. Secondary aims of this platform include improved knowledge, attitudes, and practices of high school learners towards participation in genomics research; and improved knowledge and attitudes towards life sciences high school curriculum.
  2. For research staff, the platform aims to improve skills and attitudes towards public engagement activities.

Activities on this platform include text chatting to research staff and quizzes. In addition, learners can access short audio and visual educational material extracted from free internet resources. Training and funding opportunities relevant to the field are updated regularly on the platform. Learners’ opinions on key ethical and social topics are collected via a “Have your say” section. There is also a translation corner where users can simplify complex genetic terms or translate them to other languages. On the 18th August 2018, a quiz competition was held at UCT for grade 12 learners who had been through rounds of elimination. The event hosted pupils from 35 schools in the Western Cape (10 pupils per school) in partnership with the Western Cape Education Department.

  • Kick TB Poster Competition – SATVI

The ‘Kick TB’ Poster Competition is now in its second year, growing from 106 entries in 2016 to 392 entries in 2018. The purpose is to provide an engagement channel for learners to give their artistic representation of TB, and how it affects them. It is also a means for scientists to gain insight into their knowledge and attitudes to TB. The competition is run in collaboration with the HIV & AIDS unit and the Arts Curriculum advisory unit of the WC Department of Education. The competition is conducted amongst schools around the World TB Day theme of the Stop TB Partnership.

  • TB Under the Spotlight Science Engagement – SATVI

The “TB Under the Spotlight Science Engagement” programme was conceptualised and presented by scientists from the Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics at Stellenbosch University in partnership with SATVI and the Department of Education. Other partners in the initiative include the SAMRC and the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence for Biomedical TB Research. The engagement taught learners about TB signs and symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and how a TB research laboratory works. The programme reached 893 learners in 17 primary and secondary schools in the Cape Winelands District (Worcester, Robertson and Stellenbosch).

  • Zimele Project - DTHC

The ZIMELE PROJECT is an age aggregated, multi-pronged prevention, social and health intervention for approximately 25 000 adolescents (aged 10-24 years), predominantly girls and young women, both in and out of school. Zimele builds a safety net for the adolescent that requires collaboration and partnership between health facilities, schools, community-based activities, and mobile services. The primary objectives of the programme are to reduce new HIV infections in girls and young women, keep girls in school until graduation, and reduce teenage pregnancy incidence. The programme is being implemented in the peri-urban health district of Klipfontein/MP that shows a high HIV prevalence, high incidence of teenage pregnancy and high unemployment. This is a demographically mixed sub-district that represents both African black and Coloured racial groups.

The eKhayaVac clinic community engagement team organised public dialogues to create awareness and understand the Khayelitsha’s community understanding of HIV vaccine research. They focused on educating the community on HIV vaccine research. Presentations on HIV vaccine research were made focusing on the history of HIV vaccine research, overall phases of research, and how vaccines work. The main aims were to unpack how vaccines teach the body’s immune system to recognize and protect against disease. The audience requested for more of these events to take place as the community needed to hear this important information.

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