Maternal Adolescent and Child Health (MatCH) Research Commercial City, the first ECHO site to be activated, is located within the Commercial City Clinic in Durban. The clinic provides family planning, HIV, and maternal and child health services to 8,000 to 10,000 clients a month.

MatCH Research conducts behavioural, operations and clinical research, actively partnering with and involving communities and local institutions. The ECHO site at Commercial City is one of two ECHO sites run by MatCH Research. MatCH Research began screening and enrolling participants in December 2015. We asked Zonke Mabude, the site director, to share the team’s experiences thus far.

What has been the community‘s response to the ECHO Study?

The response has been and is still positive, which is encouraging. People say that the study is empowering women with information about contraceptives as well as providing them with knowledge about the available and effective contraceptive methods.

How many participants have you enroled so far in ECHO?

We’ve enroled 25 women as of 25 February 2016.

What have been your initial lessons learned?

First and foremost, be prepared! We did mock runs and practice scenarios, and let each staff member know their role in the study (for example, who will reimburse and who will do informed consent). The staff went through Case Report Forms (CRF) and actually practiced completing them before the study started, so that there was no confusion with the first participant.

And what lessons have you learned from the first weeks of enrolment?

We learned to go slowly at first, and don’t rush any participant visit.  Make sure that each participant understands the study requirements before enrolment. It’s important to check everything with participants and to double check, especially age [Note:young women ages 16 and 17 years may join the study only upon approval based on local and national regulations and the relevant ethics committee’s guidance.] And you have to work well in your team and ensure that each staff member is well trained for the delegated tasks. There will be challenges, and these should be viewed as part of the learning curve.

What has been the most surprising thing about ECHO so far?

What was most surprising was that after the first participant, everything seemed so clear. It took so much preparation and worry to get to the first participant, but the visit went so smoothly, and after it was completed everyone was relieved and saying, “Well, that was not so bad after all.”


We would like to thank Jenni Smit (Principal Investigator) as well as Mags Beksinska (Sub-Investigator), Zonke Mabude (Site Director), Busi Maphumulo (Clinical Trials Coordinator), Ivana Beesham (Medical Officer), Londiwe Luthuli (Community Liaison Officer) and the entire MatCH team for their dedication to this important study and their contributions to this article.

Site Profile: MatCH Research Commercial City