By design, capacity building is a fundamental part of the UNIVERSAL project. The aim of the project capacity building activities is to improve the ability of African and European young investigators in designing and conducting clinical trials. As such, the project conducted a Training Needs Assessment (TNA) from March 17th to June 21st 2021 among 108 African early career researchers from Cameroon, Mali, Senegal, Uganda and Zimbabwe who are involved in the project (see fig 1 below).
A TNA is the process of collecting and analysing data to determine what training is needed to improve individuals’ performances and what should be taught. Within the scope of HIV treatment and prevention, particularly paediatric HIV, specific skills and knowledge are imperative for maximising the reach and impact of slowing down the spread and elimination of HIV.
“We believe that for effective and sustainable capacity building, there is need to identify training priorities, and tailor the capacity building activities to individual, as well as institutional capacity building needs. The UNIVERSAL training needs survey provided insight into the priority training needs of participants from various UNIVERSAL sites, which is enabling the project team to focus the capacity building activities, making the training relevant and responsive to participants, needs.” Pauline Amuge, UNIVERSAL Training and Capacity Building work package lead.
The assessment identified the top five priority training needs; research implementation, designing studies, leadership and management, grant writing, and developing research protocols.
Figure 2. Top priority capacity building needs among participants within UNIVERSAL sites in SSA
The TNA is the first step towards developing the scientific careers and skills of young clinical researchers, particularly from low middle-income countries, to improve their ability to conduct research at UNIVERSAL sites. The findings from the TNA are being used to develop a training plan focused on addressing the needs identified.