By Dr Valérian Turbé, UCL
My mobility fellowship was a seven week placement with Population Services International (PSI) in Myanmar. The project I work on was focused on the introduction of HIV self-testing to the country. The project also aimed at forging links between i-sense and an NGO with experience in fieldwork and large scale implementation past the research stage.
I helped design and write up the timeline, protocol and study design for the organisation’s three stage approach to at-scale implementation of HIV self-tests for key populations. I planned the first pilot study at one of PSI’s clinics and produced the required supporting materials, including instructions video, consent forms, and information sheets. I also initiated contacts with HIV self-test providers to start the process of registering their products in the country, in collaboration with the government. While I was based in the largest city in Myanmar, Yangon, I was also allowed to meet and shadow PSI’s health workers at a number of clinics in different regions of the country.
Being involved in this project gave me a great insight into everyday life at an NGO and the challenges involved in implementing the outputs of our research. The opportunity to work together with members of the key populations targeted by PSI’s various programmes was truly enriching and made for a great overall experience.