For the second time, members of TESA III (Trials of Excellence in Southern Africa III) met to share results and assess the progress of the project and critical implementation issues in the targeted institutions, as well as updating the Scientific Review Committee and ancillary projects, the Manhiça Health Research Center (CISM) Data Centre and TAGENDI (which addresses regional gender and diversity gaps in clinical research capacity). The meeting took place in France, Paris, on 11 November.

The TESA network is a regional initiative that collaborates with 15 institutions, 12 from southern Africa and 3 European institutions, and supported by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). TESA is in the third period of the grant, which began on 1 July 2021 and expected to end on 30 June 2024. As the lead institution of the consortium under the project, FM-CISM is responsible for managing and coordinating the Network.

After almost two years of implementing activities, each of the members of the TESA Network was invited to present their progress, opportunities and challenges. According to Francisco Saúte, Consortium Leader and one of the consortium’s Principal Investigators, the meeting served to analyses the activities and see where the project stands. “This year meeting was particularly important because we are heading towards the last phase of the project. As a result, it was agreed that in the coming months there will be intensive monitoring of the activities and a strengthening of internal communication because there is little time left and decisions have to be made about the future of TESA,” said Francisco Saúte, adding that at this stage of the project the big challenge will be to reallocate funds to different activities in order to guarantee their execution, as well as the prospect of requesting an extension of the project, without additional funding, because we want TESA to continue.

For Rodrigues Matcheve, Project Manager and Network Coordinator, it is important that the members are aligned in terms of expected results. As the leading institution in the consortium, FM-CISM is committed to evaluating the same results and fulfilling the objectives initially set. “So far, we have made good progress with the process of accrediting the CISM Data Centre as a reference center, we are now seeking experiences from other accredited international centers to better understand the process and finalise it, and we have been expanding research capacity, using Strong Institutions and established facilities through the use of active joint clinical trials as platforms for institutional transformation and human resource development in the Southern Region of Africa.”

In terms of capacity building, according to Matcheve, TESA is supporting 12 students (4PhD/8 Masters), in addition to the 8 women PhD students who are TAGENDI fellowship.

During the TESA General Assembly session that took place at the annual meeting, in addition to presenting the accounts to the members of the Council, in this meeting, the board members discussed tools to improve internal communication and the Network’s strategic plan, which aims to support the constituent organizations to ensure the consortium’s growth and sustainability. On the other hand, two new members of TESA’s Scientific Advisory Committee were also introduced: Prof Lovemore Gwanzura from Zimbabwe (University of Zimbabwe) and Dr Miguel de Brito from Portugal (Polytechnic Institute of Lisbon), who were appointed in October this year. 

The opportunity also served to share the state of play of the Strategic Communication Plan, the mentoring plan for young scientists and the development of a Hub (a process by which information is transmitted to many recipients at the same time) for scientific knowledge, previously discussed at the network’s First Annual Meeting, which took place in Luanda, Angola, in November 2022.

The meeting brought together all the network’s stakeholders, namely work package managers, principal investigators, those responsible for thematic areas of health and the members of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC Members).

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