Story by Juliet Sithole
The Africa University Clinical Research Center (AUCRC) in partnership with Bremen University in Germany held the Manicaland Cohort Medical Observational study known as the MACOMO Project at the AU Main campus on the 1st of September 2023 in fulfilment of an ongoing MOU signed in 2016 between the two universities. The MACOMO Project aims to provide surveillance and data on the existing disease burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s) as well as estimating risk factors so as to allow for more effective prevention. In attendance were Dr Mukuzunga (Provincial Medical Director for Manicaland), Professor Hajo Zeeb (from the University of Bremen), Dr Faith Mutseyekwa (AUCRC Director), Chief Mutasa, Mr Hamufari Bracha (Director of Local Government), community nurses from Mutasa and other Community Health workers.
The Interim Deputy Vice Chancellor of Africa University, Professor Pamela Machakanja, on behalf of the AU Vice Chancellor Reverend Professor Mageto officially opened the workshop applauding efforts to effectively alleviate the scourge of NCD’s in the region that are on the rise yearly committing more support from the university.
Professor Zeeb added, “MACOMO Project is a unique one as it cannot be found anywhere in Africa and it is positioning Africa University so strong in the fields of Research in chronic diseases and demographic development.”
Dr Mutseyekwa further highlighted the significance of the MACOMO Project stating that it will provide dedicated attention to the conduct of prospective epidemiologic studies to inform policy and practice on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) aetiology and disease pathways in the local context. Although similar cohort studies have been conducted and continue to be hosted in the Western world, this facility offers an opportunity for new learning to explore the aetiological linkages between risk factors and NCD outcomes in the unique context of the epidemiological transition in which countries in Sub Saharan Africa find themselves. MACOMO also provides a great opportunity for capacity building in academia as well as for surrounding health facilities and communities.
Apart from the recent MACOMO Project, other areas of collaboration between the two parties encompass working together to write a protocol for research to develop a digital therapeutic lifestyle change intervention for people living with chronic diseases. Recently, the AUCRC signed a notice of award for funding for this activity from the Africa University Office of Research and Innovation. “This is a multi-disciplinary innovation research grant and we are excited that we will get the opportunity to work with students through the i5 Hub to develop a home-grown application with the potential to save lives,” said Dr. Faith Mutseyekwa.