VIGH Leads NCD Training Workshop in Zambia

Workshop presenters and organizers

The UNZA-Vanderbilt Training Partnership for HIV-Nutrition-Metabolic Research (UVP) continues a longstanding training collaboration between the University of Zambia School of Medicine/University Teaching Hospital (UNZA/UTH), and the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH). Dr. Douglas Heimburger, Associate Director for Education and Training for VIGH and Dr. Selestine Nzala, Assistant Dean at UNZA serve as Principal Investigators. A key component of the program includes in-country training and faculty development workshops to enhance graduate programs at UNZA.

In January, UNZA and VIGH held a two-day workshop on the UNZA campus in Lusaka, Zambia, entitled HIV, Nutrition, & Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – Knowledge Gaps & Burning Issues. As a result of long-term antiretroviral therapy (ART) people with HIV are living longer and NCDs are becoming more common within this population.

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), along with many international partners, made antiretroviral therapy (ART) available to millions of Africans and turned HIV into a chronic condition. This exposes persons living with HIV to multiple NCDs related to prolonged ART, lifestyle risk factors, secular changes accompanying the global epidemiologic transition, and aging. Nutritional factors are central to many of these, especially in low-income countries, and affect pathogenetic processes in the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, nervous system, and cardiovascular system.

Training in research related to NCDs is the core mission of UVP, and to that end, the January workshop highlighted the state of the science of HIV/NCD research in Zambia and identified areas of exploration as well as resources and infrastructure available to researchers.

The workshop was organized by topic: nutrition and HIV, cancer, gastrointestinal disease, cardiovascular disease, renal disease, and neurology/mental health. Attendees from academia, public health, and local non-governmental organizations included 22 speakers presenting their research on nutrition and NCDs among Zambians living with HIV, and 84 people actively working in the HIV/NCD research arena.

Workshop highlights included available data repositories, data capture tools, and laboratory resources at UNZA as well as ongoing and completed investigations by Zambia-based investigators.

The workshop was funded by the NIH-Fogarty International Center.