Dr. Scott Barnhart, professor of global health at the University of Washington School of Public Health, has received $9.2 million for the first year of a five-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help control the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zimbabwe by expanding voluntary medical male circumcision.
[Photo: Dr. Scott Barnhart]
The project, a collaboration between the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH) and the department of global health, which bridges the Schools of Public Health and Medicine, aims to circumcise 100,000 men in its first year and 500,000 men over five years. The project could result in the prevention of approximately 100,000 new cases of HIV.
“Implementation science is all about achieving impact at scale,” says Dr. Barnhart, former director of Global Health Programs for I-TECH. “This project uses implementation science methods via a model focusing on working with public sector hospitals and mission hospitals.”
This approach is not only effective, but it builds sustainable capacity that can be transitioned to the Ministry of Health in Zimbabwe at the end of the project, Dr. Barnhart notes. “Without this model, few projects will succeed in ultimately becoming locally led and thus sustainable.”
I-TECH’s overall approach is to promote local control and ownership in projects being implemented at scale. This project highlights the distinct advantages of leveraging the power and skills of local organizations, building capacity and shifting project direction and funding in-country.
HIV affects 15 percent of the population in Zimbabwe and voluntary medical male circumcision is critical for prevention efforts, as it reduces the risk of male HIV infection by as much as 60 percent. Studies have shown that the 15-minute procedure works better than many disease-preventing vaccines and appears to offer lifelong protection. By lowering men’s risk of acquiring HIV, this approach reduces the transmission of HIV for both women and men.
The project will be implemented by ZAZIC, a local consortium comprising the Zimbabwe Association of Church Hospitals, Zimbabwe Community Health Research Project and University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences-Clinical Trials Research Centre.
Dr. Barnhart led the original I-TECH/UW and ZAZIC consortium partnership aimed at promoting voluntary medical male circumcision in Zimbabwe. Dr. Barnhart is working with a Seattle-based team that includes Dr. Caryl Feldacker, Ms. Marrianne Holec and Ms. Joanna Mendelsohn; as well as Dr. Batsi Makunike, Dr. Vernon Murenje, Dr. Mufuta Tshimanga, Ms. Vuyelwa Tenjiwe Sidile-Chitimbire and others in Zimbabwe.