AWACAN-ED Southern African School for Cancer Research

A key aim of the African aWAreness of CANcer and Early Diagnosis (AWACAN-ED) Project is to strengthen research capacity in Southern Africa through training programmes and mentorship of emerging cancer researchers. As part of this capacity development, an AWACAN-ED Southern African School for Cancer Research will take place once a year for 4 years. The School aims to develop early career researchers by giving them opportunities to study, collaborate and have mentorship from national and international experts.

The first AWACAN-ED Southern African School for Cancer Research was held from Monday 27th to Friday 30th September 2022 in Harare, Zimbabwe. The school had 17 attendees and 19 speakers. The attendees included Masters and PhD students (9 of whom have been awarded an AWACAN-ED PhD or Masters studentship) as well as clinicians and other professionals within the healthcare sector with an interest in early cancer diagnosis. Speakers represented the University of Cape Town, University of Zimbabwe, Queen Mary University of London, University of Cambridge, Zimbabwe Cancer Registry, IARC, CANSA, Cancer World Health Organisation AFRO, UMTHA, the Well Woman Clinic and community representatives.

Some of the AWACAN-ED Southern African School Attendees & Speakers

The interactive sessions covered proposal development, literature reviews, research methods, and an overview of established and emerging evidence within the field of early diagnosis of cancer. Additional sessions focused on career development paths and experiences of community stakeholders. Throughout the week students developed their own research proposal and each presented these on the final day to receive feedback from experts and their peers.

A highlight of the week was the AWACAN-ED Southern African School for Cancer Research Dinner. Prof Mike Chirenje opened the evening with the welcome. The guest of honour was Prof Nicholas Midzi (Director of the National Institute of Health Research) who was representing Air Commodore Dr Jasper Chimedza. Dr Jairos Rurinda, the Professional Assistant to the Vice Chancellor of UZ spoke on behalf of the VC Prof Idah Sithole-Niang. Also, the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at UZ, Dr Fiona Makoni, spoke at the dinner. Prof Fiona Walter gave the vote of thanks at the end of the evening.

Overall, the first AWACAN-ED Southern African School for Cancer Research was a success and was well received by the attendees and the speakers. Attendees were asked to provide regular feedback throughout the week. Overall, the attendees reported that the school provided an interactive space to learn about research methods, community and stakeholder engagement, and research process. Attendees commended the quality of the presenters, variety of content and materials, and the opportunity for engagement and also suggested some improvements to the format for future schools.

Word-cloud produced by attendees: One word to describe your time at the AWACAN-ED school

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