PhD programme: Nyashadzaishe Mafirakureva

Nyasha worked as a regulatory pharmacist at the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe before completing his Masters in 2011 in Medical Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Through T-REC, he is now carrying out PhD research on the health economics of blood and blood products, linked to the safety of blood transfusion. He hopes that the findings will help to design policies to ensure a cost-effective and sustainable transfusion service, and help to identify and quantify the risk associated with blood transfusion. His methods are mostly retrospective analysis of data available at NBSZ and transfusion facilities, which involves reviewing and analysing transfusion reactions reports, donor records and patient medical records.

So far, Nyasha has developed a four-year work plan of proposed projects, activities and publications. He has also attended several training sessions and workshops on research skills and techniques, including health economics, biostatistics, evidence-based medicine and supply chain management for health commodities. He has gained all the necessary site and ethical approvals to carry out a study on the epidemiology of blood and blood components transfusion in Zimbabwe, which is significant because all other chapters in his thesis will use data generated by this study.

Nyasha has completed research on transfusion reactions, and presented a paper on this at the sixth African Society for Blood Transfusion (AfSBT) Congress in 2012. Findings from this project are now being used to train doctors and medical laboratory scientists on standards for blood transfusion in Zimbabwe. Nyasha also explored blood donor deferral reasons in Zimbabwe and presented a paper at the 23rd Regional Congress of the International Society for Blood Transfusion in June 2013.

According to Nyasha, research capacity building in the Zimbabwean context is critical because it helps build, develop and improve a critical mass of expertise with the capacity to carry out and use research. It allows individuals, organisations and systems to undertake and disseminate high quality research efficiently and effectively. This is important to ensure stronger local ownership of research initiatives and build sustainable research institutions. All these contribute to the sound evidence base required for decision making in policy and practice in sub-Saharan Africa. He says, “Research capacity building must be an ongoing concern. There needs to be continued support beyond the timelines of a particular project to ensure continuity.”



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