African Cochrane Indaba: Reflections from a newbie Cochranite
Solange Durão is a senior scientist at the South African Cochrane Centre (SACC), South African Medical Research Council. She is a Cochrane author and a peer reviewer for the Cochrane Developmental, Psychosocial and Learning Problems and Public Health Review Groups. Her main research interests are related to promoting evidence-based public health nutrition practices. Here, in the third and final in a series of Cochrane Blog posts from participants at the recent African Cochrane Indaba, Solange recounts her experiences as a new Cochrane contributor.
When it comes to The Cochrane Collaboration I’m the new kid on the block. It usually takes something special to go from being the outsider to feeling like a member of the group. This is my story.
I first heard about the Collaboration a few years ago when I was studying towards my Masters in Public Health. I ended up doing a systematic review for my dissertation project – a process I found really interesting and enjoyable. After this experience I wanted to do more. So, when in 2012 the opportunity to work at the South African Cochrane Centre (SACC) presented itself I jumped and, fortunately, I got the job! Soon after that I found out that we would be hosting the African Cochrane Indaba this year, where I would meet other African and international contributors and learn more about the work being conducted in Africa. How serendipitous!
The Indaba took place at the Lagoon Beach Hotel in Cape Town, from 6-8 May 2013. As a newcomer taking part in this event was a useful and interesting experience in many ways. I attended workshops where I updated my methodological knowledge and skills on conducting high-quality systematic reviews to produce good quality evidence that will help improve healthcare delivery and save lives. This will be valuable for my own review on food security. I also attended thought-provoking plenary sessions where topical issues were addressed. For example, one session was about engaging with policy makers to ensure that research synthesis findings are translated into effective healthcare policies. Another was on how best way to disseminate these findings to the various stakeholders, including the very people whose lives we wish to improve. These are crucial issues to address if we want our work to have an impact in the “real world”!
As a Mozambican now living in South Africa, I know that we as Africans need to find evidence-based solutions to the healthcare problems of our continent. I was therefore inspired to see African contributors sharing the stage with other world famous Cochranites. This highlighted the fact that there are African contributors doing great work around healthcare issues relevant to Africa.
I was also star struck as I got to meet “celebrity” authors whose work I admire, including Sir Iain Chalmers, the founder of the Collaboration.
Most of all, it was amazing to realise that I am now part of something important - a group of people who are passionate about working together to do meaningful work. I really felt like everyone’s contribution to the work of the Collaboration is highly encouraged and valued.
When the Indaba ended, I was left feeling inspired to change the world, or at least a tiny bit of it, through my work here at the SACC. I hope I manage to achieve this!
Solange Durão (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Photo (L-R): Babalwa Zani, Solange Durão, Jimmy Volmink, Iain Chalmers, Lindeka Mangesi