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Reviews for Africa Programme (RAP): Training in the science of research synthesis for Cochrane authors of systematic reviews 

mapThe interest in evidence-based healthcare and research synthesis has grown considerably in recent years. Systematic reviews are the backbone of evidence-based medicine and the product of research synthesis. They use systematic and explicit methods to identify, select, critically appraise, and analyse relevant research around a clearly formulated question. The Cochrane Collaboration is an international not-for-profit organization that aims to help people make well-informed decisions about healthcare by preparing, maintaining, and promoting the accessibility of systematic reviews of the effects of healthcare interventions. Cochrane Reviews follow a standard format, are regularly updated in response to new information, and are subject to extensive peer review. These reviews are published in an electronic database known as the Cochrane Database of the Systematic Reviews (together with other databases of interest to health care decision-makers) as part of The Cochrane Library.

The Reviews for Africa Programme (RAP) trains African health researchers and providers in the science of research synthesis and assist them to initiate and prepare a Cochrane Review, ultimately for publication on The Cochrane Library. RAP is a collaboration between the South African Cochrane Centre (SACC) and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), with support from the Cochrane HIV/AIDS Review Group. RAP is supported by a grant from the Nuffield Commonwealth Programme, through The Nuffield Foundation. The strategic focus of Programme reviews is on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other diseases and issues relevant to Africa.

Since 2005, 26 participants (from Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zimbabwe) have joined the programme. All participants have attended a 4-week intensive protocol development course and 24 have attended the 3-week review completion course. Nine reviews and 25 protocols have been published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Table 1). Furthermore, since completing the two intensive courses, participants are active in conducting presentations and facilitating workshops on evidence-based health care in their home countries, training under- and postgraduate students on the principles of research synthesis and contributing to knowledge translation projects.

Table 1. Cochrane Reviews and protocols completed as part of RAP programme

Topic

Stage

Published

The effect of antiviral therapy on genital herpes in HIV infected individuals

Protocol

2007 Issue 2

Intermittent preventive treatment regimens for malaria in HIV-positive pregnant women

Protocol

2007 Issue 3

Education and counselling for promoting adherence to the treatment of active tuberculosis

Protocol

2007 Issue 3

Azithromycin for treating uncomplicated malaria

Protocol

2007 Issue 3

In-service neonatal and paediatric emergency care training for health professionals in developing countries

Protocol

2008 Issue 2

Interventions for the prevention and treatment for AIDS-related Mycobacterium avium complex

Protocol

2008 Issue 2

Female condoms for preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections

Protocol

2008 Issue 3

Tenofovir + Emtricitabine + Efavirenz as first-line treatment for patients with HIV

Protocol

2008 Issue 3

Zinc supplementation in children in malaria-endemic areas

Protocol

2008 Issue 4

Antibiotics for treating nontyphoidal Salmonella diarrhoea

Protocol

2008 Issue 4

Efavirenz versus nevirapine as a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor in initial combination antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection

Protocol

2009 Issue 2

Genital ulcer disease treatment for reducing the heterosexual transmission of HIV infection

Protocol

2009 Issue 3

Topical microbicides for prevention of sexually transmitted infections

Protocol

2009 Issue 3

Intermittent phototherapy for Neonatal Jaundice’

Protocol

2009 Issue 4

Boosted protease inhibitor ‘monotherapy’ for treating HIV/AIDS

Protocol

2009 Issue 4

Interventions for squamous cell carcinoma of the conjunctiva in HIV-infected individuals

Review

2007 Issue 2

Home-based HIV voluntary counseling and testing in developing countries

Review

2007 Issue 4

Interventions for Prevention and Treatment of AIDS Dementia Complex

Review

2008 Issue 3

Azithromycin for treating uncomplicated typhoid fever

Review

2008 Issue 4

Anti-motility agents for chronic diarrhea in people with HIV/AIDS

Review

2008 Issue 4

Antiretroviral Pre-exposure prophylaxis for preventing HIV in high risk individuals

Review

2009 Issue 1

The effects of antimicrobial therapy on bacterial vaginosis in non-pregnant women

Review

2009 Issue 3 

Routine iron supplementation for preventing or treating iron-deficiency anaemia in children in malaria-endemic areas

Review

2009 Issue 3

Adjunctive therapies for HIV associated Nephropathy

Review

2009 Issue 4

Contact for further information
Elizabeth Pienaar
, South African Cochrane Centre, Medical Research Council, P O Box 19070 , Tygerberg, 7505, South Africa, Tel: +27 219380438  Fax: +27 21 9380836, E-mail: elizabeth.pienaar@mrc.ac.za

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Last updated:
6 June, 2014
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