Health diplomacy the adaptation of global health interventions to local needs in sub-Saharan Africa and Thailand: Evaluating findings from Project Accept (HPTN 043)

Sebastian Kevany, Gertrude Khumalo-Sakutukwa, Oliver Murima, Alfred Chingono, Precious Modiba, Glenda Gray, Heidi Van Rooyen, Khalifa Mrumbi, Jessie Mbwambo, Surinda Kawichai, Suwat Chariyalertsak, Chonlisa Chariyalertsak, Elizabeth Paradza, Marta Mulawa, Kathryn Curran, Katherine Fritz, Stephen F. Morin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: Study-based global health interventions, especially those that are conducted on an international or multi-site basis, frequently require site-specific adaptations in order to (1) respond to socio-cultural differences in risk determinants, (2) to make interventions more relevant to target population needs, and (3) in recognition of 'global health diplomacy' issues. We report on the adaptations development, approval and implementation process from the Project Accept voluntary counseling and testing, community mobilization and post-test support services intervention. Methods. We reviewed all relevant documentation collected during the study intervention period (e.g. monthly progress reports; bi-annual steering committee presentations) and conducted a series of semi-structured interviews with project directors and between 12 and 23 field staff at each study site in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Thailand and Tanzania during 2009. Respondents were asked to describe (1) the adaptations development and approval process and (2) the most successful site-specific adaptations from the perspective of facilitating intervention implementation. Results: Across sites, proposed adaptations were identified by field staff and submitted to project directors for review on a formally planned basis. The cross-site intervention sub-committee then ensured fidelity to the study protocol before approval. Successfully-implemented adaptations included: intervention delivery adaptations (e.g. development of tailored counseling messages for immigrant labour groups in South Africa) political, environmental and infrastructural adaptations (e.g. use of local community centers as VCT venues in Zimbabwe); religious adaptations (e.g. dividing clients by gender in Muslim areas of Tanzania); economic adaptations (e.g. co-provision of income generating skills classes in Zimbabwe); epidemiological adaptations (e.g. provision of 'youth-friendly' services in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania), and social adaptations (e.g. modification of terminology to local dialects in Thailand: and adjustment of service delivery schedules to suit seasonal and daily work schedules across sites). Conclusions: Adaptation selection, development and approval during multi-site global health research studies should be a planned process that maintains fidelity to the study protocol. The successful implementation of appropriate site-specific adaptations may have important implications for intervention implementation, from both a service uptake and a global health diplomacy perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number459
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptations
  • Global health diplomacy
  • HIV
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Voluntary counseling and testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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