Building leadership capacity and future leaders in operational research in low-income countries: why and how?

Medical Department, Médecins Sans Frontières, Operational Centre Brussels, MSF-Luxembourg, Luxembourg.
The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (Impact Factor: 2.76). 11/2011; 15(11):1426-35, i. DOI: 10.5588/ijtld.11.0316
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Very limited operational research (OR) emerges from programme settings in low-income countries where the greatest burden of disease lies. The price paid for this void includes a lack of understanding of how health systems are actually functioning, not knowing what works and what does not, and an inability to propose adapted and innovative solutions to programme problems. We use the National Tuberculosis Control Programme as an example to advocate for strong programme-level leadership to steer OR and build viable relationships between programme managers, researchers and policy makers. We highlight the need to create a stimulating environment for conducting OR and identify some of the main practical challenges and enabling factors at programme level. We focus on the important role of an OR focal point within programmes and practical approaches to training that can deliver timely and quantifiable outputs. Finally, we emphasise the need to measure successful OR leadership development at programme level and we propose parameters by which this can be assessed. This paper 1) provides reasons why programmes should take the lead in coordinating and directing OR, 2) identifies the practical challenges and enabling factors for implementing, managing and sustaining OR and 3) proposes parameters for measuring successful leadership capacity development in OR.


Available from: Unni Karunakara, Apr 27, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: vol 4 no 2 published 21 june 2014 PHA 2014; 4(2): 89–95 © 2014 The Union T he International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) started a programme of capacity building in operational research (OR) in 2009, and in 2012 joined forces with the Special Programme for Re-search and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), hosted at the World Health Organization. The aim of this joint programme, known as the Structured Opera-tional Research and Training Initiative (SORT IT), is to improve health care delivery and public health through OR. This is done through integrated OR train-ing courses in which participants from low-and mid-dle-income countries are enrolled and taken through a research project from protocol development to imple-mentation, data collection, analysis, and the writing and submission of a paper to a peer-reviewed journal. 1 We carefully monitor output from each course, in-cluding 1) the number and percentage of enrolled par-ticipants who complete the course, 2) the number of scientific papers submitted and published in peer-re-viewed journals, and 3) whether there has been any impact of the research study on policy and practice. We are also interested in knowing whether there has been any continuation of research activities after the course has been completed and whether the skills learnt during the course have been used to expand the discipline of OR. An assessment conducted 1 year after the end of the first OR course found that the 12 course participants had continued with research activities, submitting and/or publishing a total of 19 papers, pre-senting posters at conferences and, in some cases, par-ticipating in training courses, mentoring and review-ing scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. 2 Apart from the study cited above, no other publica-tions have reported on research activities of OR course participants after completion of training. We therefore decided to follow up participants who had completed our first eight OR training courses, and report on re-search-related output since the courses were com-pleted. Specific objectives were to determine 1) the re-search output of participants and their institutions after course completion, including a comparison with papers published by participants before the course; 2) the influence of OR fellowships on their output; and 3) the output of non-OR fellows stratified by sex, re-gion and staff position.
    06/2014; DOI:10.5588/pha.13.0014
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    ABSTRACT: Between 2009 and 2012, eight operational research capacity building courses were completed in Paris (3), Luxembourg (1), India (1), Nepal (1), Kenya (1) and Fiji (1). Courses had strict milestones that were subsequently adopted by the Structured Operational Research and Training InitiaTive (SORT IT) of the World Health Organization. We report on the numbers of enrolled participants who successfully completed courses, the number of papers published and their reported effect on policy and/or practice.
    Tropical Medicine & International Health 06/2014; DOI:10.1111/tmi.12343 · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    Health Research Policy and Systems 06/2014; 12(1):23. DOI:10.1186/1478-4505-12-23 · 1.86 Impact Factor