Dr. Sylvie Kwedi Nolna, President and Founder of CLEAR, Inc. is the part of the HIGHER WOMEN consortium that was recently highlighted on the WHO/TDR website


HIGHER Women – Supporting Early-Career Women Scientists in Cameroon

Problem: Early-career women scientists in Cameroon face numerous challenges while establishing their careers, including lack of mentors and role models, lack of research and proposal development skills, inadequate capacity for funding-raising, lack of networking opportunities, and many rarely plan for their careers.

Proposed Solution: To address the challenges that early-career women scientists in Cameroon face, Higher Institute for Growth in HEalth Research for Women (HIGHER Women) - a consortium comprising of women health researchers in Cameroon was established in 2015 to support and build the capacity of early-career women scientists to develop long-term careers in health research through mentoring, skills development and career planning.

Impact: 10 early-career women scientists have developed grant proposals. A one-day workshop to review and revise the proposals prior to submission for grant funding is planned.

5 protégés received travel grants to present proposals developed during the workshop.

50 protégés will receive mentoring support from 17 mentors for a year. It is anticipated that protégés will not only transition from protégé to researcher in 5 years, but will also be inspired to pay it forward by becoming mentors to future early-career women scientists.

To keep the momentum going, HIGHER Women has established a website to facilitate networking, information sharing and advocacy for women researchers. HIGHER Women plans to submit an article documenting the consortium’s efforts to support early-career women scientists for publication.

With support from several ministries, including the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and the Family and the Ministry of Research and Innovation, all of which are represented on the consortium, HIGHER Women will be formalized and launched as a national network with country-wide membership, and a platform to bring together women scientists. HIGHER Women also plans to establish a Research Centre where quality research can be undertaken and whose premises can be used for training workshops, thereby raising the profile of health research.

Related Links:

Dr. Sylvie Kwedi Nolna participated in the 4th International Neonatal & Maternal Immunization Symposium (INMIS) September 10-12, 2017 - Brussels (Belgium)

Dr. Sylvie Kwedi Nolna presented results on a study titled “Factors influencing the performance of routine immunization in urban areas: a comparative case study of two cities in Cameroon: Douala and Yaoundé » that she co authored with Prof. Pierre Ongolo Zogo of the Centre for the Development of Best Practices in Health at the Yaoundé Central Hospital. Follow this link for a Youtube video.

The study aimed to describe the socio-demographic characteristics of non- or incompletely vaccinated children aged 12 to 23 months and to identify the organizational factors associated with the persistent poor performance of routine immunization in Douala and Yaounde. It consisted of a community-based cross-sectional study adopting an explanatory quali-quanti concomitant mixed design in three randomly selected health districts in each city. The study revealed that the lead reasons for non-vaccination included parents/guardians not knowing the consequences of not being vaccinated, the guardian marital status, level of education, and religion, child birth order, attendance to post-natal consultations, guardian valuing vaccination, knowledge of vaccination completeness and vaccine preventable diseases, and beliefs on how detrimental was non-vaccination to child health. Health workers’ bad behavior was a leading organizational factor in both cities as well as low quantity of health personnel in the vaccination services. It was shown that performance of routine immunization services is jeopardized by several factors including individual, socio-cultural and the inadequate organization of health district services in urban areas. Changes are needed in terms of communication for routine child immunization and delivery arrangements to align with care seeking behaviors.

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1. Kwedi Nolna, S., Essama Mekongo, P., Leke Fomban, R. (2017). Mentoring for Early-Career Women in health research : The HIGHER Women Consortium approach. Global Health Epidemiology and Genomics, 2. E3. Doi:10.1017/gheg/.2016.20

2. Malm, S., Ghoma Linguissi,L., Tekwu, E., Vouvoungui, J., , Vouvoungui,C., Kohl, T., Beckert, P., Sibide, A., Rüsch-Gerdes, S., Madzou-Laboum, I., Kwedi, S., Penlap-Beng, V., Niemann, S., Frank, M., Ntoumi, F. and Stefan Niemann.  Genetic diversity and Sequence analysis for detection of drug resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis circulating in Brazzaville, Congo. Emerging Infectious Diseases, March 2017; 23(3). In Press.

3. Leke, R. G. & Kwedi Nolna, S. (2016). Health research: Mentoring female scientists in Africa. Nature, 536, 30.

4. Kwedi, N. S., Kammogne, I. D., Ndzinga, R., Afanda, B., Ntone, R., Boum, Y. et al. (2016). Community knowledge, attitudes and practices in relation to tuberculosis in Cameroon. Int J.Tuberc.Lung Dis., 20, 1199-1204.