Implementation research platform launched

TDR news item
17 November 2010

Montreux, Switzerland: The enormous problem of how drugs and other health interventions can be scaled up to meet national and regional needs in developing countries could be greatly helped with a common platform for promoting implementation research. The platform was launched at the opening of the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research by a new collaboration of several organizations at the World Health Organization, with funding from NORAD, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, and SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

“There is an urgent need for research to accompany implementation and scale-up of research”, explained Abdul Ghaffar, the executive director of the Alliance For Health Policy and Systems Research, a special partnership based at the World Health Organization (WHO). He was speaking on behalf of the group that developed this platform -- the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), the Alliance For Health Policy and Systems Research and the departments of Human and Reproductive Health and Child and Adolescent Health at the World Health Organization.

Tore Godal from NORAD announced the selection of the first 7 projects. Three are from African countries, and 4 others are in Egypt, Nepal, India and Guatemala.

“The strength of the platform is its open, transparent selection of proposals,” Ghaffar said. Of the 250 letters of interest received from the first call for proposals, 14 were chosen from country teams and were sent to eight independent reviewers.”

The platform will be housed in the Alliance, and is set up to help build evidence for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to improve child and maternal health and reduce HIV/AIDS, and build capacity for health systems research and knowledge translation, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

Robert Ridley, the Director of TDR, said the platform’s strength was that it would allow a greater degree of “inter-disciplinarity”. “You have the potential to go beyond just malaria or reproductive health, for example, to see how to strengthen the whole system. It allows you to look at the interface between the scale-up and the implementation.”

The first seven country teams to receive funding through the platform are:

1.Burkina Faso: Dr Halidou Tinto Pharm, Institut de Recherche en Science de la Sante (IRSS). Researchers hope to reduce the impact of malaria-related mortality in pregnant women by developing a new diagnostic algorithm for malaria diagnosis and case management in the last period of pregnancy.

2.Guatemala: Dr Edgar Kestler, Epidemiological Research Center in Sexual and Reproductive Health, Hospital General “San Juan de Dios”. Researchers plan a cluster-randomized trial to evaluate a package of interventions to increase institution-based care and reduce perinatal mortality in the four districts with the highest maternal mortality ratio in Guatemala.

3.India: Professor Sanjay Zodpey, Indian Institute of Public Health – Delhi, Public Health Foundation of India. The study will develop a model for improving maternal, neonatal and child health care in urban slums by increasing access to institutional care.

4.Kenya: Dr John Ong’ech, Elizabeth Glaser, Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) and Ministry of Health. Researchers will use a cluster-randomized control trial to determine the effect of mobile phone technology for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

5.Egypt, Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Syria: Dr Jocelyn DeJong, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon and Dr Hyam Bashour, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Damascus University, Syria. Researchers aim to understand the health system factors affecting the management of maternal and neonatal near-miss cases.

6.Nepal: Dr Mahesh K Maskey, Nepal Public Health Foundation.

The objective of the study is to identify the barriers in scaling up skilled birth attendant services and to develop and test an intervention package to address them.

7.Uganda: Peter Waiswa, Department of Health Policy, Planning and Management. Makerere University School of Public Health. The goal is to learn how to integrate and scale-up interventions such as home visits of community health workers, aimed at increasing access to institutional deliveries and care of complications.