Pioneering improvements in TB data management in Senegal

A thirst to dig deeper, combined with a passion for statistics and numbers, first inspired Amadou Seck to study computer science and later led him to his current role at the National Tuberculosis (TB) Control Programme in Dakar, Senegal, where he is responsible for data management. And just one sobering statistic is enough to sustain him on his mission: according to the latest World Health Organization figures, approximately 30 000 Senegalese have TB.

Those motivations took him to Luxembourg in 2013, where he was placed for 9 months as a TDR Career Development Fellow (CDF) at CRP-Santé, a leading public research centre for health. Now back home in Senegal, Seck is eager to steer improvements in good clinical data management practices and play an important role in fighting TB by strengthening national clinical research capacity.

“Amadou Seck is one of the first non-clinician specialists to benefit from the programme”, says Pascal Launois, manager of the CDF at TDR. “Analysis of health research priorities highlighted a knowledge gap in data management and Mr Seck’s successful application to the programme responded to a real need, in Senegal, to strengthen local data management capacity so that clinical trial data could be analyzed at country level”.

“Winning a place on the Career Development Fellowship programme was a great opportunity for me, professionally and personally”, says Seck. “It has enabled me to gain more experience and to get international exposure to leading edge data management practices that I can now apply and pass on in my work in Senegal”.

"Amadou is already implementing important changes and introducing new procedures for working as well as encouraging other team members to understand and respect new data management methods."

Dr Marie Sarr, Head of Senegal’s National TB Control Programme

Since 2009, Seck has worked on high-profile international collaborative research projects in Senegal, such as the multi-country Phase III clinical trial of a new anti-tuberculosis drug regimen and, currently, RAFA, an EU-funded research project on TB/HIV. Having already worked with the data management team at CRP-Santé, where the central project database for the Phase III clinical trial is based, it was a logical step to take up the placement in Luxembourg.

The fellowship allowed Seck to gain invaluable hands-on experience and develop a network of new contacts. He is using both these connections and his new knowledge to set up a top quality data management structure in Dakar that will enable the TB control programme to conduct its own studies and trials, in line with international standards.

Connecting Luxembourg and Dakar

During the progamme, Seck spent 2, three-month blocks at CRP-Santé’s centre of competences in methodology and statistics in Luxembourg, as well as a three-month period in Senegal in the middle of the placement. This enabled him to remain connected, professionally, to his base in Dakar, ensured smooth continuity of data management between the 2 countries during the critical data analysis phase of the Phase III clinical trial, and enabled stronger relations to be built between the institutions involved.

“In a very short time, Amadou became a fully integrated member of our team and is a great example of the effectiveness of the programme and our centre’s ability to provide valuable hands-on training in statistics and data management”, says Dr Michel Vaillant, Seck’s supervisor and mentor in Luxembourg.

Transferring knowledge and expertise

During his placement, Seck worked on data management for the Phase III clinical trial for Senegal including managing data cleaning from the central data management site in Luxembourg and liaising with the local site in Senegal. He gained experience using specialist global data management software (Clinsight) and interfacing with the SAS system for specific programming tasks. He also used open-access software for data management and will receive further support from CRP-Santé to put such a system in place in Senegal.

Knowledge of these systems will help Seck to establish a specialized unit to handle data management for clinical trials locally. He also wants to take advantage of the networking opportunities he was exposed to through the fellowship programme, such as attending the International Year of Statistics Conference 2013, in Luxembourg, and the TDR CDF fellows’ meeting in Geneva in 2014.

In Dakar, Seck works as part of a small team including a medical doctor, monitoring and data entry experts and a finance officer, where they are responsible for the country control programme as well as special international clinical research projects. Seck remains grateful for the support of his supervisor, Dr Marie Sarr, Head of Senegal’s National TB Control Programme, who originally recommended he apply for the CDF scheme.

“The CDF programme opens a door for us to develop and promote our expertise,” says Sarr. “Amadou is already implementing important changes and introducing new procedures for working as well as encouraging other team members to understand and respect new data management methods”.

For more information, contact

Pascal Launois (launoisp@who.int)

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