Welcome Paul Ngangula to Our Research Team

The IDEAS for Hope Research Team is pleased to welcome Paul Ngangula, a Global Health Master’s student from Duke University, as the newest member of our team. Originally from Zambia, Paul is the founder of the Fortress of Hope Organization and has a keen research interest in intervention design, implementation science, and health behavior science.

Paul’s background and expertise are set to enhance our team’s efforts in developing effective mental health interventions. We look forward to the contributions and insights Paul will bring to our work. Welcome aboard, Paul!


Paul Ngangula


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New Study Highlights the Urgent Need for Interventions for Youth Suicide Prevention in Africa

by Paul Ngangula, Master’s of Science in Global Health Student, Duke University

In a recent research publication by Dr. Brandon A. Knettel, et al. in the journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, the authors highlighted a gap in the availability of counseling interventions aimed at preventing suicide among African youth. The article, titled “A profound absence of counseling interventions for suicide prevention among youth in Africa: A call to action based on an empty scoping review,” serves as a critical call to action for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners alike. 

Globally, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth, with one-third of all global suicide deaths occurring among adolescents and young adults. The situation is even more dire in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in many African countries where suicide rates exceed global averages. Despite these alarming statistics, the availability of interventions tailored to prevent suicide among African youth is critically low.

Dr. Brandon A. Knettel

The findings of the review are striking. Out of 1,808 studies screened, none of them met the inclusion criteria as a youth-focused intervention for suicide prevention in Africa. This “empty review” starkly highlights the profound absence of published research on suicide prevention interventions for the youth, representing a critical gap in our collective efforts to address a life-threatening public health challenge. The absence of suicide prevention interventions is not just a research gap –  it’s a missed opportunity to save lives.

This manuscript includes more detailed guidance for addressing the lack of suicide prevention interventions, including advocacy for increased prioritization of research, funding, and implementation of suicide prevention strategies tailored to the unique cultural and societal contexts of African countries. Effective suicide prevention strategies exist in other settings, but the global community has failed to effectively adapt them to African settings, or to develop new interventions that reflect the unique cultural landscape of African nations. Addressing these shortcomings will require collaboration among researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and community leaders to prioritize the mental health and well-being of youths.  

For more information on this groundbreaking study and to join the conversation on advancing suicide prevention in Africa, visit the full article here

Find out more about our research lab and our commitment to suicide prevention across diverse populations by visiting our website at https://sites.duke.edu/ideasforhope/ 

social media platforms: 

Twitter/ X: https://twitter.com/home?lang=en 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fikrazenyematumaini/ 

These platforms offer detailed insights into our ongoing projects, publications, and our broader mission to address critical public health challenges through innovative research.   

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Advancing Mental Health Care in Africa: Insights from the 15th Annual Focus on Mental Health Conference

by Paul Ngangula, Master’s of Science in Global Health Student, Duke University

November 2023, Tanzania – The Focus on Mental Health Conference, now in its 15th year, recently convened in Moshi, Tanzania. As one of the few regional conferences focused specifically on mental health, the event has become a pivotal yearly opportunity for mental health discourse in the Kilimanjaro region, which is the primary site of the IDEAS for Hope research project. 

This year’s conference marked another milestone in the journey toward improving mental health understanding and treatment in East Africa by bringing together global minds and local expertise. As local leaders in mental health capacity building, our team from Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) and the IDEAS for Hope lab were honored to participate and contribute to this event.

The Focus on Mental Health Conference was founded by Dr. Rolf Schwarz, a Dutch psychiatrist, and has since blossomed into an important event in Tanzania. The conference interweaves threads of local involvement with international cooperation.

Research Team Members

Our lab’s presentation centered around the IDEAS for Hope study, which has developed a telehealth counseling intervention for suicidal prevention among people living with HIV in the Kilimanjaro region. This pioneering study addresses suicidal ideation in the context of HIV care, and it is the first known study to use telehealth to intervene for suicidality among people living with HIV in Africa, reflecting our commitment to innovative and contextually relevant research. The IDEAS for Hope team recently completed a pilot randomized clinical trial of the IDEAS for Hope intervention, with findings forthcoming, and will be seeking to expand the project to many more sites in the Kilimanjaro region in the months ahead.

Dr. Kim Madundo

Dr. Kim Madundo, psychiatrist at KCMC and a key leader in the IDEAS for Hope laboratory, presented on behalf of the team. Dr. Madundo provided updates on the progress of the project and the recently completed clinical trial, as well as insights about the landscape of mental health treatment in Tanzania. These insights are especially relevant for future capacity building efforts aimed at increasing awareness of mental health challenges, reducing stigma associated with accessing care, and improving access to mental health treatment.

At the conclusion of the conference, we were particularly proud to receive the Daktari Schwarz Award, honoring the best scientific presentation at the conference. Congratulations to Dr. Madundo and the team!

Daktari Schwarz Award

Academic publications describing the IDEAS for Hope study in greater detail can be found at the links below: 

Knettel, B.A., Knippler, E.T., Amiri, I., Joel, L., Madundo, K., Msoka, E.F., Boshe, J., Tarimo, C.S., Katiti, V., Rwakilomba, J., Turner, E.L., Minja, L., Staton, C., Vissoci, J.R.N., Mmbaga, B.T., Relf, M.V., & Goldston, D.B. (2023). Protocol for a pilot randomized controlled trial of a telehealth-delivered counseling intervention to reduce suicidality and improve HIV care engagement in Tanzania. PLOS One, 18(7), e0289119. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0289119

Minja, L., Knettel, B.A., Pan, W., Madundo, K., Amiri, I., Joel, L., Knippler, E., Relf, M.V., Vissoci, J.R.N., Staton, C., Msoka, E., Tarimo, C., Katiti, V., Mmbaga, B.T., & Goldston, D.B. (2023). Validation of a culturally sensitive instrument to assess suicide risk, reasons for living, and self-efficacy to avoid suicide with a sample of Tanzanian adults living with HIV. Global Mental Health, 10(67), 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1017/gmh.2023.59

Knettel, B.A., Amiri, I., Minja, L., Martinez, A.J., Knippler, E.T., Madundo, K., Staton, C., Vissoci, J.R.N., Mwobobia, J., Mmbaga, B.T., Kaaya, S., Relf, M.V., & Goldston, D.B. (2023). Task-shifting ‘gold standard’ clinical assessment and safety planning for suicide risk among people living with HIV: A feasibility and fidelity evaluation in Tanzania. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS), 93(5), 374-378. https://doi.org/10.1097/QAI.0000000000003217

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New Publication Alert: Telehealth Counseling Protocol to Reduce Suicidality and HIV Care Challenges in Tanzania

“We are pleased to announce that our research manuscript, “Protocol for a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of a Telehealth-Delivered Counseling Intervention to Reduce Suicidality and Improve HIV Care Engagement in Tanzania,” has been officially published in the prestigious journal, PLOS ONE. You can view the publication at the following link: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/.”

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Season Highlights: Fall 2022

We are happy to report that the Fall season brought beautiful tidings for the IDEAS for Hope team.

Firstly, our very own Ismail Amiri Shekibula, research coordinator on the IDEAS for Hope team, traveled to Durham, North Carolina to join Duke University in August 2022. Ismail is pursuing a Master’s degree in Global Health at the Duke Global Health Institute. We are also happy to report that as part of his degree requirements, Ismail will continue to work with Dr. Knettel and the IDEAS for Hope team on his field work and research thesis.



We had another win…

This October, our cancer stigma study based at KCMC in Tanzania, won the Best Graduate Student Poster Award at the Duke Global Health Research Showcase. The winning presentation was done by a member of our team, Judith Mwobobia, a second-year graduate student at Duke University.


And that’s not all…

A month earlier, Judith got a chance to participate in a Science Communication program at Venice International University, Italy, where in front of a jury of peers and communication experts, she presented the ECaSSA study on cancer stigma.

Not done yet…

The cancer stigma team gets a chance to present a poster at the 44th annual Society of Behavioral Medicine’s (SBM) 2023 Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions in Phoenix, Arizona. Stay tuned for more information about the presentation.

We can’t wait to see what the coming months bring forth for the team.

Here is to great health, groundbreaking research, and a great November.


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ECaSSA Team Receives Best Poster Award at Duke Global Health Showcase

Congratulations to the entire ECaSSA Cancer Stigma team for winning the Best Graduate Student Poster award at the Duke Global Health Institute Global Health Showcase in Durham, NC on October 17, 2022.

The poster presentation was led by Judith Mwobobia, a graduate student from the Master’s of Global Health program at Duke. Judith shared details of the research exploring cancer stigma among cancer patients in Moshi Tanzania, including qualitative data from patients with cancer describing their experiences with stigma and directions for future interventions.

The ECaSSA study seeks to understand the attitudes and beliefs surrounding cancer, and how stigma affects care and treatment seeking among cancer patients in low-resourced settings.

Congratulations to Judith and the team.

The full poster can be found here.


Judith and Dr. Knettel Accepting the Award

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IDEAS Team Receives APA Division 52 Best International Poster Award

Congratulations to the IDEAS for Hope team for winning the Best International Poster award at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 3-6, 2022. The award was presented by the Association’s Division 52 – International Psychology.

The poster presentation was led by Alyssa Martinez, MSc, a newly graduated student from the Master’s of Global Health program at Duke. Alyssa shared findings from qualitative interviews conducted with mental health workers in Tanzania exploring the use of telehealth in the prevention of suicide among people living with HIV in Tanzania.

The abstract and full poster can be found here.

Congratulations to Alyssa and the team!

Alyssa Martinez during the poster presentation.


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ECaSSA Team Presents Cancer Stigma Poster in Arusha, Tanzania

On the 29th of July 2022, the ECaSSA study team presented preliminary findings of the just concluded cancer stigma study. The presentation was part of the Tanzania International Cancer Conference held in Arusha, Tanzania, the first of its kind held in the country. The two-day convention, officiated by the Minister of Health, Ummu Ally Mwalimu, brought together cancer care researchers and key implementers from the region including the Director of the Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute and IDEAS site leader Professor Blandina Mmbaga.

Victor, Elizabeth, Prof. Blandina, and Clotilda during the conference



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Telehealth to prevent suicide in Tanzanian HIV clinics: Perspectives of mental health professionals

APA Convention 2022: Abstract & Poster 

MH Professional IDIs Abstract_10Jan2022_


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2022 Implementation Meeting: Integrating Mental Healthcare into Cancer Care.



On the 29th of June, 2022, the “Exploring Cancer Stigma” (ECaSSA) study team held its first implementers conference at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Moshi, Tanzania. The meeting brought together key health partners from the KCMC Cancer Centre, Psychiatry & Mental Health Department, the broader hospital, and local government with a goal of building a bridge between mental health and cancer care.

The full-day discussion started with presentations from the heads of the Cancer Centre and Psychiatry Service, describing the formation and impressive expansion of these services in the last 6 years since they were first formed.

The ECaSSA team’s principal investigators, Dr. Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters and Dr. Brandon Knettel, along with Study Coordinator Elizabeth Msoka-Bright, then shared preliminary findings from the ECaSSA study. To date, findings have demonstrated patient concerns about disclosing their cancer status to others, the public perception that cancer is related to death, and the overwhelming financial burden of cancer care which often leads to tension with family members.

The team has also observed critical delays in cancer treatment, including an average of 6 months from the time of onset of symptoms to first seeking care, and a further delay of 5 months on average from the time of seeking care to receiving a cancer diagnosis. These patient- and hospital-level delays have crucial implications for cancer outcomes and survival.

The presentation of preliminary findings sparked a conversation that would lead to practical steps towards reducing stigma and increasing mental health support for people affected by cancer.

Among the key attendees of the implementation meeting were Dr. Linda Samu, the District Medical Officer for Moshi Municipal District, Dr. Sarah Urassa, Director of Hospital Services at KCMC, Prof. Blandina Mmbaga, director of Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute, Dr. Furaha Serventi, head of the KCMC Cancer Centre, and Dr. Judith Boshe, Head of Psychiatry and Mental Health at KCMC.

“The meeting was a major success, and we particularly appreciated input from the attendees on next steps for research and practice,” says Dr. Brandon Knettel, the co- principal investigator of the ECaSSA study. “This feedback will be critical in designing the next phase of this research, where we hope to design new interventions to support people with cancer and their families.”

The ECaSSA team winding up preparations for the implementors meeting.

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