Global Fund guidelines now call for operational research

TDR news item
13 April 2017

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis has released new guidelines for operational research funding as part of overall efforts to build resilient and sustainable systems for health. The policy aligns with recommendations from a TDR-led study and consultation.

“This policy puts operational research back on the global health investment agenda in a visible, concrete way,” says Dermot Maher, TDR Coordinator of Research Capacity Strengthening and Knowledge Management.

“Operational research and similar approaches for using data and learning to drive action and improvement are critical for maximizing health outcomes, taking cost and resource availability into account,” says Peter Hansen, the Head of Technical Advice and Partnerships at the Global Fund.”

Specifically, the guidance encourages country grant applications that focus on practical ways to generate quality data and how it is used to improve health outcomes and build stronger health systems.

Explicit reference to operational research in the guidelines gives countries clear direction on the value of this type of research from one of the biggest funders of disease control programmes, Maher explains.

“It shows the strategic importance of addressing implementation or operational bottle-necks to improve results, and should drive more of these approaches into national strategies to combat HIV, TB and malaria,” he noted. “We believe this will maximize the impact of Global Fund grants and save more lives.”

TDR leadership drives use of operational research

Implementation research and operational research are key elements of the TDR strategy. A recent study and global consultation helped to raise awareness among international partners of the importance of this type of research in Global Fund grant portfolios, and build consensus for more investments in country-led operational research to improve health delivery and results.

“It was interest from the countries that led TDR to undertake research and organize dialogue with the Global Fund about operational research in health delivery strategies, including what is needed to drive more practical, local approaches to problem-solving,” said Maher.

The inclusion of operational research in the policy is expected to stimulate more proposals for these activities in countries applying for Global Fund grants.

About the guidance

The guidance on “Building Resilient and Sustainable Systems for Health through Global Fund Investments,” released in an information note on 15 December 2016, identifies funding opportunities for countries proposing to improve operations around “evaluations, reviews, data analysis and use” in any component of HIV, TB and malaria control programs.

Strong health information systems are core to improving program quality, according to the policy. “The right data needs to be available at the right time and used by actors at different levels of the system to drive improvements,” notes the guidance.

For more information, contact:
Jamie Guth
TDR Communications Manager
Telephone: +41 79 441 2289