STREAM community engagement workshop held in Tbilisi, Georgia

The STREAM trial, which is evaluating the effectiveness of shorter treatment regimens for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), held a community engagement workshop in Tblisi, Georgia, where the Stage 2 trial is planned to initiate shortly. Stage 2 will study a six-month MDR-TB treatment and a nine-month all oral regimen.

The workshop brought together both former and current MDR-TB patients, their families, and interested community members, who spoke with trial implementers and outreach officers about the design, implementation and results of STREAM.

These meetings provide participants with an important opportunity to raise concerns about the trial and to ask questions about TB in general to ensure they are informed and involved at all stages of clinical research. Questions ranged from political concerns about foreign governments conducting drug tests to clinical questions regarding treatment outcomes and possibilities.

As part of the workshop, participants formed a community advisory board to act as a link between the community and trial staff. Four coordinators were elected and the board agreed to meet regularly, with the aim to increase research literacy, knowledge of TB and MDR-TB and understanding of the STREAM trial. STREAM staff will actively collaborate with the community advisory board and provide periodic updates on research.

STREAM community engagement activities launched in late 2016 when STREAM Community Engagement Coordinator, Dr Ezio Tavora Dos Santos Filho of REDE-TB (Brazilian Network of Tuberculosis Research), travelled to Tbilisi for the first workshop. Outreach and engagement has been ongoing since then.

Similar community engagement activities are underway in STREAM sites in Ethiopia, Georgia, Moldova, Mongolia and South Africa. Community engagement will be conducted in additional countries as the STREAM Stage 2 continues to roll out in 2017.

The STREAM trial is a multi-centre international randomised controlled trial sponsored by The Union and implemented by Vital Strategies to evaluate standardised treatment regimens of anti-tuberculosis drugs for patients with MDR-TB. STREAM is part of TREAT TB, an initiative that aims to contribute to new knowledge through field evaluations of diagnostic tools, clinical trials of priority research questions and targeted operational research benefitting global, regional and country-level TB efforts. TREAT TB is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).