Eh!woza, CIDRI-Africa’s public engagement partner, hosted a community and public engagement (CPE) workshop for CIDRI-Africa Principal and Contributing Investigators (PIs, CIs) and mentees at a half-day workshop on the 19th of July 2023, prior to the Annual Scientific Meeting at Le Franschhoek Hotel and Spa.
CIDRI-Africa mentees were prioritised for attendance at the workshop, with all invited mentees taking up the offer to attend. The remaining spaces were offered to CIDRI-Africa PIs, CIs, administrative staff, and the External Advisory Board. Twenty five people with research experience ranging from PhD to Professorial level and similarly varied ranges of expertise in CPE attended the workshop.
The Eh!woza team surveyed attendees before the workshop to better understand expectations and priority areas for discussion. Fifty six percent of attendees described some experience with CPE in the past, with priority areas including methods for CPE, design and inclusion of CPE in research design, impact assessment of CPE, and CIDRI-Africa perspectives towards CPE. The workshop was structured with the following sessions:
1. Attendee introductions and icebreakers
2. Introduction to CPE "theory" (Dr Tasha Koch, co-director, Eh!woza and Honorary Lecturer, MMRU, UCT)
3. CIDRI-Africa approach to CPE (Prof. Robert J Wilkinson, Director, CIDRI-Africa)
4. Eh!woza as a case study (Ed Young, co-director, Eh!woza)
5. Introduction to patient engagement (A/Prof. Esmita Charani, Wellcome Early Career Fellow, and CIDRI-Africa CI)
6. Translating complex scientific information for specific audiences (Avuyonke Balfour, PhD candidate and CIDRI-Africa mentee)
7. Funder perspectives on CPE (Dr Tasha Koch)
Discussion during the workshop and subsequent informal feedback suggested the workshop was successful and well-received, with a commendation from both members of the External Advisory Board in attendance (Prof. Eric Rubin and Prof. Charles Bangham) and the CIDRI-Africa Director.
The workshop achieved its intended aims of introducing CIDRI-Africa members and mentees to key concepts in CPE, stimulating interest and discussion around CPE, and creating connections between researchers with an interest in CPE. A workshop summary was presented within the formal ASM the next day by Dr Mthawelanga Ndengane and Raymond Moseki (both CIDRI-Africa mentees), highlighting CPE within the scientific meeting programme.