Outside the biomedical box of integrated care research. Meet some of our new INTE-AFRICA staff
The INTE-AFRICA consortium is made up of a range of diverse professionals from Europe and Africa. They are experts in unique activities that range from infectious disease care, non-communicable diseases care, public health, project management, implementation, social science, or health economics. Have you ever wondered what it takes to be involved in a large multi-country randomised control trial? We have interviewed some of our INTE-AFRICA staff who are both on the ground and behind the scenes to give you an idea. Follow along in our series documenting some of our INTE-AFRICA consortium members!
Interviewee name: Dr Joseph Okebe
Role in INTE-AFRICA: Investigator
Where they are based: Liverpool, UK
Past role/job: Clinical Epidemiologist at the Medical Research Council Unit of LSHTM in The Gambia
Who are you?
I am Nigerian. I am trained as a doctor and completed my specialist training in paediatrics. I moved to the UK and LSTM to join the RESPOND AFRICA group in 2019. Previously I worked at the Medical Research Council Unit in The Gambia.
I was both intrigued about the process for generating the evidence and somewhat disappointed as many of the papers did not address the questions that I was asking
How has your journey helped you lead to this point in your career?
My journey started when I was a resident in training, and we were required to make presentations during clinical rounds on the “science” behind our line of management. I was both intrigued about the process for generating the evidence and somewhat disappointed as many of the papers did not address the questions that I was asking. This was the time before “open-access” so access to research papers was limited to a few paper-bound journals. So, while information was available, it was not always useful to my context. For me, my career has been about conducting and highlighting research that speaks to the context of developing country settings.
How did you initially get involved in research?
My first foray into research was a systematic review on the treatment of childhood cancer that was prevalent in malaria-endemic countries. I raised my concerns about the treatment protocol in the hospital and one of the consultants at the hospital where I worked then asked me to review the literature and see what other options were available. Later, I took up a position at the Medical Research Council Unit in The Gambia as a research clinician. It was a fusion of the highest standards of research addressing health problems endemic in low-income countries.
How has the field of integrated care, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, been changing?
Integrated care has been an integral part of health systems in sub-Saharan Africa. The primary health care system is based on this concept and focused on addressing the range of diseases that contributed the most to the burden of disease and death in the region. As the awareness about the burden of non-communicable diseases grows, the experience from integrating care for multiple conditions for specific age groups would be useful as we try to integrate services for these non-communicable and chronic conditions.
What areas of HIV and NCD research and/or project management do you think are being neglected?
I would like to see research into developing medical record systems tailored to integrated care management. It is very difficult to manage chronic conditions without proper records of the patients’ experience. Most patients visit many hospitals to get different perspectives on their condition and treatment. Without the support of good records, healthcare workers are unable to deliver the best available care and patients may be at risk.
I would like to see research into developing medical record systems tailored to integrated care management
What do you hope to do in your role and as a member of the RESPOND-AFRICA consortium?
I hope to contribute to the group’s vision of providing research solutions that respond to clear needs by patients, stakeholders and policymakers. I also want to support training the next generation of researchers who would like to answer questions that are relevant to their context.
Besides research and randomised control trials, what do you enjoy doing?
I like travelling and having a good chat around a table with friends. I have been recently introduced to Japanese animated movies.