The CEPI Community Engagement Network 

Background of CEPINET

CEPINET is a network of institutes, clinical investigators, and social scientists who are committed to the development of effective, culturally-appropriate community engagement models to support vaccine development of CEPI’s priority diseases. This network will bring together scientific and research groups involved in risk communication and community engagement who are willing to share their experiences, expertise, and knowledge. This shared knowledge will be relevant to inform the design of epidemiological studies including clinical trials, to boost subject recruitment and retention as well as to increase vaccine acceptability in those communities. Community engagement is an integral part of the CEPI Enabling Science strategy in supporting vaccine development of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) and will be key to the future use of CEPI-funded vaccines.

Collaborating with community stakeholders to devise questions, gather information, and analyse results related to vaccine research activities, ensures that stakeholders’ expertise and understanding of the local perception, cultures, and tradition appropriately inform study design and conduct. Furthermore, collaborating with community stakeholders builds trust and lays the foundation for meaningful engagement. Constructive long-term stakeholder engagement helps ensure the ethical and scientific quality of research as well as its relevance to community stakeholders. The latter have unique expertise to contribute to the research process and possess critical knowledge and understanding of local cultures.

Experience from recent and previous epidemics and pandemics have shown that it is critical to commence community engagement activities early and ideally during peacetime/before an outbreak. As such, it is critical to start discussions on community engagement with key stakeholders well in advance of the deployment of a new vaccine. CEPINET represents a platform by which these stakeholders (I.e., endemic community stakeholders, researchers, trial sponsors and funders) can come together in supporting vaccine development of CEPI’s priority diseases. 

Goals

The main goals are to strengthen communities and research institutions, to expand and deepen existing partnerships, and to forge new partnerships, in order to facilitate effective community engagement in all aspects of epidemiological studies towards vaccine development against EIDs. Specifically, CEPINET will:

  • Provide a platform for shared learning and knowledge to build trust and understanding among the community stakeholders
  • Lead development of new research opportunities that could be supported by external partners outside the scope of CEPI’s projects

Planned activities / Scope

CEPINET will provide the following services:

  • Database of CEPINET members
  • Virtual Networking Tool to “SHARE, LEARN & CONNECT” 
  • Toolbox (Templates, Documents, etc.)
  • Knowledge development and management including:
    • Development of culturally appropriate effective community engagement models
    • Best practices to engage specific vulnerable populations including pregnant women in an ethical and legal way
    • Community knowledge, attitudes, practices, and communication with regards to vaccines against EIDs including COVID-19

Working with consortia

CEPINET will be a virtual networking platform. To achieve its mission and goal, CEPINET will network and collaborate with different partners with diverse expertise.

Communication strategy

A key objective of CEPINET is the communication and dissemination of all generated information, documents, and tools to those in need. This communication is not limited to CEPINET members.

For comments or inquiries please write to tghn@cepi.net