TDR promotes implementation research to US policymakers
Partners include the Fogarty International Center, Global Health Council, WHO and Research America
TDR cosponsors a briefing to US Congressional staff and a symposium at the annual meeting of the Global Health Council on research to support community-based health care.
Community-based health care is key to the reinforcement of primary health care systems. That was a core message of keynote presentations by WHO’s Director-General Margaret Chan and former Director-General Halfdan Mahler at the Global Health Council’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
At the meeting, 27-31 May, TDR and the Fogarty International Center of the US National Institutes of Health cosponsored a half-day symposium focusing on how research can support the development of community-level health care systems by identifying and improving strategies that work in real life settings.
Technology & research standards
Appropriate technology is one important element of community health care, said Dr Abhay Bang, Director of the Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health, an NGO based in India. Speaking at the TDR and Fogarty-sponsored symposium, Bang described how infant mortality due to childhood pneumonia was reduced from 13% to 1% in poor communities in India by teaching mothers how to use abacus beads and hour glasses for assessment of symptoms.
TDR’s Dr Jane Kengeya Kayondo presented the results of a recent TDR cosponsored study in 35 health districts in Nigeria, Uganda and Cameroon that documented how community volunteers, through a programme of “community-directed interventions,” were able to increase access to insecticide-treated bednets and malaria treatment, as well as to drugs to control river blindness.
Catherine Peckham of the United Kingdom’s Nuffield Council on Bio-ethics, described how health ethics related issues can impact research in developing countries. Research can have a positive long-term impact on health care services when trials are carefully designed to build staff skills and capacity, she asserted. However, developing countries may also find themselves excluded from participation in research trials when, for instance, health care services cannot meet ‘universal standard of care’ measures, developed on the basis of developed country conditions.
Roger Glass, Director of the Fogarty International Center of the US National Institutes of Health, meanwhile, emphasized the need to put long-term research training programmes in place to build capacity for research for community-based health care, saying, “we need to think long term, 5-20 years ahead.”
Capitol Hill briefing
TDR’s recent study on community-directed interventions in Africa also was the focus of a standing room only presentation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., 23 June. A panel entitled “Working smart in global health: learning as we deliver,” was led by the Global Health Council’s Government Relations Director Nicole Bates. Speakers included Fogarty International Center’s Deputy Director Michael P. Johnson; TDR Director Robert Ridley; Oladele Akogun of the Federal University of Yola, Nigeria; and Peter Hotez, who is Research America’s Paul G. Rogers Society for Global Health Research Ambassador.
Akogun, who was the principle investigator for the recent TDR community-directed interventions study, explained how the study in three African countries provides a model for integrated delivery of health care tools. The African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC), which cosponsored the study, has now recommended the approach be used more widely in Africa.