The INTEGRATION consortium held its kick-off meeting on 22 and 23 November 2021 both in person at Hôtel l’Amitié, Bamako, Mali, and virtually. The meeting opened with welcome notes from Prof. Kassoum Kayentao (Project Coordinator), Prof. Boubacar Traore (Dean of Faculty of Pharmacy, FAPH), Prof. Seydou Doumbia (Dean Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, FMOS), Prof. Ouaténi Diallo (Rector of the University of Science, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako, USTTB) and Prof. Amadou Keita as Minister of Higher Education and Research of the government of Mali. The recording of the opening ceremony is available online.

The main purpose of the meeting was to offer the opportunity to exchange knowledge and practices between the INTEGRATION researchers, stakeholders and policymakers, as well as to have a common understanding of the study and any key questions during the study implementation in the routine health systems in Burkina Faso and Mali. The INTEGRATION study has the potential to produce a direct benefit in public health impact at both regional and global level, improving the health of expecting mothers as one of the populations most in need by providing evidence-based information. Dr Montserrat Blázquez-Domingo, EDCTP Senior Project Officer, took part in the meeting.

The meeting was moderated by Mrs Adama Guindo (Communications, Public and Community Engagement Officer at USTTB) and it was attended by 56 participants, among them all consortium partners (in Burkina Faso, France, Italy, Mali and the United Kingdom) and representatives from the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), the National Federation of Community Health Associations (FENASCOM) and the National Centre for Information, Education and Communication for Health (CNIECS). At the introductory session, Prof. Kassoum Kayentao gave an overview of the project, its objectives and expectations, and highlighted that the main objective of this implementation research study is to evaluate if addition of Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnant women with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (IPTp-SP) delivered through Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) facilities can increase coverage and timeliness of IPTp-SP and enhance antenatal (ANC) attendance among pregnant women in Burkina-Faso and Mali. SMC strategies are nationally implemented in the two countries involved in the study. The introductory session was followed by presentations from representatives of the different participating institutions, where each partner highlighted their roles and tasks, and provided updates on their plans towards the objectives of the project.