April 2019 Newsletter




ICHAD is collaborating with Dr. Susan Witte for their new NIMH-funded “Kyaterekera” Project
The ICHAD team is thrilled to announce a new R01 study (R01MH116768) funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. Under the leadership of Dr. Fred Ssewamala at Brown School and Dr. Susan Witte at Columbia University, and in collaboration with Rakai Health Sciences Program and Reach the Youth Uganda, this rigorous randomized study, entitled “Kyaterekera Project: A Combination Intervention Addressing Sexual Risk-Taking Behaviors Among Vulnerable Women In Uganda” will test a combination intervention addressing sexual risk-taking behaviors among female sex workers (FSW) in Uganda. FSWs in Sub-Saharan Africa have been identified as a high-risk group for the spread of HIV/AIDS, with those in poor areas being especially vulnerable. Research has shown that the primary reason poor women engage in commercial sex work is financial instability. Given these challenges, women living in poverty require support over and above HIV prevention education. Therefore, the ICHAD team intends to test the impact of adding economic empowerment (EE) components to traditional HIV risk reduction to reduce new incidents of sexually transmitting infections and of HIV among FSWs in Rakai and Masaka districts in Uganda and to provide an avenue for FSWs to explore alternative means of safe and sustainable income to replace sex work.

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Dean McKay along with Drs. Ssewamala and Joe received funding from NIMH to train scholars interested in child behavioral health in resource-constrained settings
We are very excited to announce our new training grant (R25MH118935-01)) funded by the National Institute of Mental Health entitled, “Strengthening Child Health Research Capacity in Resource Constrained Settings: Researcher Resilience Training (RRT)”. Under the leadership of Dean McKay, Dr. Ssewamala, and Dr. Joe, the RRT program will develop, deliver and test state-of-the-art methods training and “hands-on” research experience to advanced doctoral students and early career investigators, specifically those of African descent, committed to addressing the serious threats to child behavioral health, as well as prevention and care disparities in poverty-impacted local and global contexts. In collaboration with Brown School Faculty, this summer program will prepare RRT Fellows to focus their research on serious overlapping outcomes for youth living in scare-resource communities: 1) disruptive behavioral difficulties; 2) engagement in early sexual/drug risk behaviors and; 3) early acts of delinquency, including violent behavior. Recruiting 9 fellows annually over the course of five years, the RRT program aims to develop and support a pipeline of new child behavioral health investigators prepared to advance scientific knowledge about system and community-level interventions that can address the disproportionate health burdens experienced by poverty-impacted youth and their families. Stay tuned for the details of the summer program and the application materials!

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Suubi4Her updates from the field
Suubi4Her researchers have been hard at work with field activities! Baseline interviews for the Suubi4Her participants are under way. So far, already 832 participants from 40 schools have completed baseline assessments. In addition, the researchers have been busy facilitating the opening Youth Development Accounts (YDAs) for participants in the treatment schools. Thus far, the team has helped open 107 Centenary Bank YDAs and 95 Stanbic YDAs for participants from 26 schools. Participating youth and parents have already reached out to the team to thank them for the opportunity to save via their newly opened bank accounts.

SMART Africa-Uganda updates from the field
The SMART Africa-Uganda team has made tremendous progress in their study! Ugandan team members have conducted baseline interviews for participants in 4 schools in the two treatment groups—2 schools per arm. Thus far, they have conducted 289 guardian interviews and 286 children interviews from a total of 254 families. In addition, the team has already initiated MFG delivery in the four schools: two Community Healthcare Worker (CHW) schools and two parent peer schools. To date, the MFG sessions have been running very smoothly and successfully. The team is working diligently to ensure that it remains on schedule as outlined by their study protocol. Finally, the Uganda team is in the process of preparing for the 3rd site monitoring visit, which is set to take place from November 6-8, 2018. We are so proud of the SMART Africa-Uganda team and all the study accomplishments!

SMART Africa-Ghana updates from the field
The SMART Africa-Ghana team has been hard at work preparing for the study initiation. The team has already selected three schools that will participate in the study. In addition, 14 members from the Ghana team and BasicNeeds-Ghana, SMART Africa’s partner organization, attended a Good Clinical Practice training September 12 through 14th, facilitated by Mr. William Daaki and Mrs. Grace Kigozi from Rakai Health Science Program in Uganda. The interactive training, which took place at BasicNeeds-Ghana in Tamale, aimed to enhance the skills of staff in regards to study procedures and good clinical practices as well as to help the team practice consenting and administration of the study measures.
SMART Africa-Kenya updates from the field
The SMART Africa-Kenya team has been making tremendous progress in their study preparations. For instance, the team has finalized a draft of the MFG manual cultural adaptation, which will soon be distributed to the SMART Africa team for review. Similarly, the Kenya team is looking forward to presenting the draft during their second Stakeholders Meeting, which is scheduled to take place in early October. Once receiving feedback from their SMART Africa colleagues and the stakeholders, they will then craft their final draft. Led by Drs. Muthoni and Yen, the Kenya team is also beginning to work on an article that describes the cultural adaptation of the MFG manual to the Kenyan context.

SMART Africa and ICHAD are also pleased to announce that Dr. Manasi Kumar, SMART Africa-Kenya Co-Investigator and Senior Lecturer and Clinical Psychologist at University of Nairobi, received a K43 research career development grant entitled, “Implementing mental health interventions in primary care LMIC contexts” this September. The study will be implemented in primary health care settings around underserved Nairobi informal settlements. Congratulations, Dr. Manasi!


Dr. Teresia Mutavi attended her PhD graduation ceremony!
On September 14, 2018, SMART Africa Global Fellow Dr. Teresia (Terry) Mutavi officially attended her graduation ceremony at the School of Psychiatry and Social Work at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. In addition, Dr. Terry has been hard at work co-writing a book chapter entitled, “Socio-economic implications of under-age sexual relationship in East Kamagambo, Rongo, Migori County, Kenya” for the upcoming book, “Governance and Economic Development in Africa.” Edited by Drs. Amutabi and Hamasi, the book will have chapters ranging from sustainable development, the impact of HIV AIDS on children and food insecurity. Congratulations, Dr. Terry for officially graduating and contributing to the field of under-age sexual behaviors in Kenya!

Dr. Ozge Sensoy Bahar continues her work on unaccompanied child migration and child labor
Dr. Ozge Sensoy Bahar, SMART Africa Co-Investigator and Research Assistant Professor at Brown School, continues to work closely with her in-country collaborators Drs. Abdallah Ibrahim, Alice Boateng and Mavis Dako-Gyeke, to carry out her qualitative NICHD-funded research study entitled, “Family processes and rural-urban migration among adolescents.” The team has so far conducted in-depth interviews with 29 caregivers. The study seeks to explore caregiver beliefs, attitudes, family processes as well as protective and risk factors that impact female adolescents’ (ages 12 to 14) migration from home to work as child laborers.

In addition, Dr. Ozge has recently submitted another R21 grant application to NICHD, entitled ” ANZANSI Family Program: A family-based intervention for female youth at risk of migration for Kaya work and their families in Northern Ghana”. If funded, Dr. Ozge will collaborate with Drs. Fred Ssewamala, Proscovia Nabunya, Abdallah Ibrahim, Alice Boateng, Emmanuel Asampong and Dean Mary McKay to tailor and test an innovated combination intervention, ANZANSI (meaning resilience in Dagbani) with girls ages 11 to 14 at risk of dropping out of school and their families in Northern Ghana. Fingers crossed, Dr. Ozge!


Drs. Fred and James presented at the World Congress of Psychiatry in Mexico
Dr. Fred Ssewamala and Dr. James Mugisha represented SMART Africa team at the World Congress of Psychiatry in Mexico on September 29, 2018 as part of a panel organized by Dr. Beverly Pringle from NIMH, entitled “Closing the research and treatment gaps for youth mental health in low- and middle-income countries”.  During the panel, Dr. Fred presented on three different, but interrelated strategies SMART Africa uses to ensure the scale-up, uptake, and sustainability of EBPs focused on child behavioral health challenges: 1) community collaboration/engagement, 2) evidence-informed policy engagement; and 3) capacity building. Dr. James, who participated in the panel as a discussant, proposed that researchers focus on improving research collaborations that address local mental health priorities, develop research skills of in-country investigators and research literacy among policymakers as well as advance the field of implementation science.


ICHAD and SMART Africa recently launched a Speaker Series at the Brown School. The speaker series are open to the public and focus on showcasing the global research on the well-being of children, adolescents, and families.

George Muteekanga
On September 5,
2018 the assistant commissioner of private schools in Uganda, George Muteekanga, presented at Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. His presentation focused on educational opportunities in Uganda, that can be created through university partnerships.

Dr. Sanghmitra Gautam
On September 25, 2018 Assistant Professor, Sanghmitra Gautam from the Economics Department, presented at Brown School at Washington Universty in St. Louis. Her presentation took an in-depth look at the adoption of sanitation in India and externalities and borrowing constraints involved. 

Dr. James Mugisha 
On October 2nd, 2018 ICHAD and SMART Africa affiliate, Dr. James Mugisha presented at Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. His presentation explored indigenous community systems and how they could effectively bridge the treatment gap for common mental illness in post-conflict areas in Africa. He also presented the findings from his Wayo-Nero (Aunt-Uncle) study in post-conflict northern Uganda.

Dr. Deborah Salvo
SMART Africa and ICHAD will be hosting a speaker series event on October 30, 2018. Our speaker will be Dr. Salvo, whose research interests lie in generating, translating and scaling up evidence for reducing health and social disparities, with a particular emphasis on chronic disease prevention in low and middle-income countries, and among minority groups in the United States. She works to understand the context-specific relationships between the built environment and health; document and improve geospatial health disparities; and  improve objective measures to quantify obesity-related behaviors (physical activity, diet) and relevant geospatial exposures (social and built environment) using GIS, accelerometry, GPS, geostatistical approaches, and other new technologies.
Dr. Habiba Ibrahim- Nov 27, 2018


NIMH 10th Anniversary Conference: Call for Abstracts
NIMH is celebrating its 10th Anniversary Conference with a call for abstracts. This year NIMH is inviting researchers to submit abstracts to present original and innovative global mental health research at the Global Mental Health Research conference. The conference will take place on 8-9 April 2019, at the Natcher Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States.

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11th Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Health
The Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Health (D&I),  co-hosted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and AcademyHealth, helps realize the full potential of evidence to optimize health and health care by bridging the gap between research, practice, and policy. By outlining the priorities in the field, the Science of D&I Conference aims to ensure that evidence is used to inform decisions that will improve the health of individuals and communities.

We are also pleased to announce that Dean Mary McKay, from Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, will be presenting at the event.

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SSWR 2019 Annual Conference:  Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence
The SSWR Annual Conference offers a scientific program that reflects a broad range of research interests, from workshops on the latest quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to symposia featuring studies in child welfare, aging, mental health, welfare reform, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS. Over 500 symposia, workshop, roundtable, paper
and poster presentations. Research methods workshops designed to enhance methods expertise and grant-writing skills and special sessions on research priorities and capacity building that target cutting-edge topics vital to contemporary social work research. Pre-conference programs and a networking reception especially for doctoral students.

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10th Annual CUGH Conference: Translation and Implementation for Impact in Global Health
Join more than 1,800 scientists, faculty, students, and implementers from over 50 countries—from academia, NGOs, government and the private sector—to learn how we can address pressing international and domestic global health, and development challenges.
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Materials from the 3rd Annual Conference on Child Behavioral Health in Sub-Saharan Africa are now available
ICHAD and SMART Africa hosted the 3rd Annual Conference on Child Behavioral Health in Sub-Saharan Africa on July 30,
2018 in Masaka. Our conference-related materials, including the videos of the conference, are now available on our SMART Africa website.