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Empowering Zambian Health Professionals through the ZENITH Implementation Science Institute

January 24, 2024 | Caitlin Baumhart, MPS, MPH

ZENITH ISI trainees' graduation photo

In January, the Zambia Education Network for Implementation Science Training in Health (ZENITH) marked a significant milestone with the successful launch of the Implementation Science Institute (ISI) in Lusaka. This intensive one-month research training seminar, a core component of the ZENITH, aims to equip Zambian public health and medical professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary to innovate and improve HIV service delivery.

The ISI, a collaborative effort between the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka and the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB), brought together ten enthusiastic and motivated students for its inaugural training. These students, selected from a large pool of promising public health and medical professionals, received rigorous training to learn about the core competencies of implementation science research.

The implementation science curriculum was taught by leading HIV implementation scientists from UMB and UTH, including Dr. Man Charurat, Dr. Marie-Claude Lavoie, Professor Lloyd Mulenga, and Dr. Cassidy Claassen. Dr. Charurat and Dr. Lavoie traveled to Zambia from Baltimore to provide in-person lessons for two weeks each, and together, they covered essential topics such as the principles and core lessons of implementation science research and frameworks, research methodologies, and the art of writing grants and manuscripts. Additionally, Dr. Kirsten Stoebenau, a highly experienced qualitative researcher with UMCP, taught several qualitative lessons. The expertise and dedication from these trainers ensured that the ISI trainees received top-notch training tailored to the unique challenges and opportunities in Zambia’s healthcare landscape.

One of the standout features of the ISI was its practical approach. The trainees used weekly lessons to design an implementation science project based on their own interests or current work projects. Trainees utilized their hands-on knowledge to adapt implementation science frameworks to design their research projects. This experiential learning reinforced their theoretical knowledge but also allowed them to practice in real time with weekly feedback from Dr. Lavoie and other trainers. 

The inaugural ISI cohort has now formed a supportive network of implementation science practitioners committed to applying their skills to achieve sustained HIV epidemic control in Zambia. Additionally, all ISI trainees have applied to the Masters of Health Sciences in Implementation and Dissemination Science program at UMB. The ISI has provided a strong foundation for these trainees to further their studies in implementation science. The ripple effect of this training is expected to extend far beyond the individual participants as they return to their respective roles and disseminate their newfound knowledge and innovative approaches.

The successful implementation of the ISI stands as a testament to the power of education and collaboration in addressing public health challenges. It underscores ZENITH's commitment to building a robust implementation science capacity in Zambia, ultimately contributing to the country's goal of achieving sustained HIV epidemic control.


Jennifer Gonzales
Communications and Public Relations Manager

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