ESSENCE on Health Research (Enhancing Support for Strengthening the Effectiveness of National Capacity Efforts) is a collaborative framework between funding agencies to scale up research capacity. It aims to improve the impact of investments in institutions and people, and provides enabling mechanisms that address needs and priorities within national strategies on research for health.
How is this being done?
Current activities include:
- A global dialogue involving funders and African countries to learn from each other the strategies, methodologies and research capacity needs associated with diseases of poverty.
- Country-based pilot models of collaboration between programmes to harmonize practices and optimize resources; the first country-based pilot was initiated in Tanzania in March 2009.
- Documenting successes and failures in strategies, approaches and support for capacity development.
- Developing methodologies, including monitoring and evaluation indicators, to track the input, process, outcome and impact of investment in research capacity.
- Sharing experiences on ongoing programmes and funding modalities, including good practices in research costs, and providing information on funding opportunities through an electronic platform.
- There is strong agreement within the international development and research communities that funding should be aligned with national priorities.
- It is recognized that successful research capacity also requires competencies in issues such as governance and management, strategic planning, evidence assessment, ethics and translation of evidence into policy, etc.
- Conducive research environments are needed to retain young professionals.
Who is behind Essence?
ESSENCE is open to a broad range of partners. The current Executive Steering Committee consists of:
- the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
- the Wellcome Trust
- the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO/WOTRO)
- TDR, Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, executed by the World Health Organization.
Members include a broad range of agencies, such as:
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
- Canada's Global Health Research Initiative (GHRI)
- European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP)
- FIOCRUZ Brazil
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
- International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (Danida)
- New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)
- Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad)
- Rockefeller Foundation
- United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID)
- US National Institutes of Health/Fogarty International Center (NIH/FIC)
ESSENCE members' meeting
15 November 2010, HSR Symposium, Montreux, Switzerland
ESSENCE good practice document series
The development of a common framework for a diverse group of funders who support a variety of initiatives in a number of different countries and work with a range of partners is a challenge.
ESSENCE members embrace the principles of donor harmonization and country alignment. According to these principles, donors/funders should align with priorities of countries in which they work, and harmonize their actions and procedures in order to facilitate complementarity among funders and to reduce administrative overload for recipients of funding.
To achieve these goals, ESSENCE members agreed to jointly develop and produce good practice documents that would incorporate current best knowledge and practice on health research and development issues. At its meeting on November 15, 2010 in Montreux, Switzerland, ESSENCE members unanimously agreed to endorse this Framework as their first good practice document. It is hoped that with this Framework, the members of ESSENCE and other partners will have access to a common tool as they plan, monitor and evaluate health research capacity strengthening initiatives in collaboration with their partners.
The Framework consists of three parts:
- shared principles on the "how-to" of capacity strengthening
- PM&E matrix, outlining key indicators
- lessons learned
Dr Garry Aslanyan, Manager, Portfolio policy and development