Mwanza Intervention Trials Unit: Showcasing successful collaborations in Tanzania

The Mwanza Intervention Trials Unit (MITU) was set up in 2006 as a joint initiative of London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the Tanzania National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR). MITU was established with special funding from the UK Medical Research Councilnow largely self- supporting through research grant income.

MITU Scientific Director, Saidi Kapiga (2nd person from the right) with colleagues

The collaboration between LSHTM and NIMR originated in the late 1980s, when the HIV epidemic was expanding rapidly in East Africa. Scientists from the School (led by Professors Richard Hayes and Heiner Grosskurth) worked with NIMR and the African Medical Research Foundation to develop a programme of research on HIV interventions in Mwanza region.

The collaboration has carried out a series of ground-breaking studies on the epidemiology and control of HIV and other sexual health problems, particularly focusing on randomised controlled trials of preventive interventions. This included trials of educational and behavioural interventions, control of acute and chronic sexually transmitted infections, and vaginal microbicides.

The mission of MITU is to contribute to improving health through the development and evaluation of interventions against HIV and other health problems; to enhance the capacity to carry out such research in Tanzania and the East African region; and to contribute to the translation of research findings into health policy in partnership with other stakeholders.

During the past ten years, MITU has expanded its research portfolio in a number of areas. This includes studies to assess the HIV burden in general and high-risk populations; research on the epidemiology of human papillomavirus (HPV) among girls and young women; leading an Ebola vaccine trial; a study of the health system response to non-communicable diseases and other chronic diseases; and a trial to assess the impact of a combined micro-finance and gender-training intervention in reducing intimate partner violence.

MITU is committed to developing capacity in the region to support rigorous scientific research.  This is achieved through a number of initiatives including support for colleagues from the scientific community in Mwanza to undertake MSc distance learning courses at the School;  support for MITU/NIMR staff to complete postgraduate training at world-leading academic institutions; ; delivering an annual intensive short course in research methods; and  participating in international consortia such as  Training Health Researchers into Vocational Excellence in East Africa (THRiVE). MITU continues to identify new areas for teaching opportunities that can enhance local researcher training.

To read more about MITU please click here.

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