Soo Chung, a subcontracts manager at Vital Strategies, was recently in South Africa for a monitoring visit. Soo oversees the contracts and budgeting for all STREAM sites and she visits sites regularly to monitor spending and compliance with USAID regulations. During her recent South Africa visit, Soo had the opportunity to speak with members of the study team at the Johannesburg site (Helen Joseph Hospital) and the Pietermaritzburg site (Doris Goodwin Hospital).
Soo spoke with Michael, who is the Health and Safety Officer and drives patients with MDR-TB to the STREAM site at in Johannesburg for their appointments. Michael meets with government officials on a quarterly basis to ensure that proper infection control procedures are followed at the Clinical Health Research Unit at the Wits Health Consortium, which oversees the trial in Johannesburg and DurbanHe also ensures that the STREAM vehicle is clean and sanitized, often starting his day an hour before his scheduled start time to make sure the job is done well.
Michael shared that, "[STREAM] is important because recently South Africa has been realizing...what research is. There are people who don't receive the treatment they need since it's too expensive for people in economically disadvantaged groups. The trial helps the sick people receive professional treatment that they wouldn't be able to afford on their own."
Soo also discussed trial progress with Samantha Aucock, the STREAM trial coordinator at Pietermaritzburg, and members of the finance/operations teams at Wits. Samantha ensures the site provides care according to the STREAM protocol and organizational standards, and actively oversees coordination and collaboration with the trial sponsor and stakeholders. Ina de Jongh and Simone Thomson (pictured here) are the General Manager of Operations and Divisional Grants Manager, respectively, at Wits Health Consortium. Ina works on contracts setup, budget approvals, and report approvals and Simone creates financial reports and oversees compliance with USAID regulations.
Samantha explained that "While South Africa has the highest TB burden per population size in the world, the HIV/TB burden is one of the leading causes of death in the country. This has devastating effects on the individuals, communities, and society at large. Shorter, less toxic and easy-to-take treatment could ensure improved outcomes and higher treatment adherence, benefiting patients and easing the burden on the health sector."