Recommendations for increasing operational research

TDR news item
23 May 2014

In a paper published in the Lancet Global Health, recommendations have been made to increase research designed to scale up health strategies and treatments in low- and middle-income countries. The paper suggests the SORT IT Structured Operational Research and Training Initiative could serve as a global springboard, where over half of all participants reported that their research paper had changed policy and practice.

"Massive amounts of routine data are collected within public health systems by ministries of health and non-governmental organizations, but are underutilised, reducing the potential impact of research on policy and practice."

Report authors

During a recent workshop organised by STOA, the Science and Technology Options Assessment body of the European Parliament (EU), experts in the field of operational research (OR) concluded that the EU should increase its support for this form of research. STOA, which provides independent assessments of scientific and technological options in various sectors including the life sciences, organised the workshop in collaboration with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (the Union) and TDR.

The authors, which include TDR’s SORT IT manager Andy Ramsay, write, “Many low- and middle-income countries are data rich but information poor. Massive amounts of routine data are collected within public health systems by ministries of health and non-governmental organizations, but are underutilised, reducing the potential impact of research on policy and practice.” They add that most data collected at the national level are of little use at the point of care.

Solutions discussed at this meeting included embedding research into national programmes and health systems; using the SORT IT model to help recipients of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to conduct operational research; and asking the European Commission to establish a clear strategy and common policy for operational research, and increase coordination between the different Directorates-General of research and development.

For more information, contact:

Andy Ramsay (ramsaya@who.int)

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