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.

Download full-text


Available from: Unni Karunakara, Jun 17, 2015
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Research is essential to identify and prioritize health needs and to develop appropriate strategies to improve health outcomes. In the last decade, non-academic research capacity strengthening trainings in sub-Saharan Africa, coupled with developing research infrastructure and the provision of individual mentorship support, has been used to build health worker skills. The objectives of this review are to describe different training approaches to research capacity strengthening in sub-Saharan Africa outside academic programs, assess methods used to evaluate research capacity strengthening activities, and learn about the challenges facing research capacity strengthening and the strategies/innovations required to overcome them. The PubMed database was searched using nine search terms and articles were included if 1) they explicitly described research capacity strengthening training activities, including information on program duration, target audience, immediate program outputs and outcomes; 2) all or part of the training program took place in sub-Saharan African countries; 3) the training activities were not a formal academic program; 4) papers were published between 2000 and 2013; and 5) both abstract and full paper were available in English. The search resulted in 495 articles, of which 450 were retained; 14 papers met all inclusion criteria and were included and analysed. In total, 4136 people were trained, of which 2939 were from Africa. Of the 14 included papers, six fell in the category of short-term evaluation period and eight in the long-term evaluation period. Conduct of evaluations and use of evaluation frameworks varied between short and long term models and some trainings were not evaluated. Evaluation methods included tests, surveys, interviews, and systems approach matrix. Research capacity strengthening activities in sub-Saharan Africa outside of academic settings provide important contributions to developing in-country capacity to participate in and lead research. Institutional support, increased funds, and dedicated time for research activities are critical factors that lead to the development of successful programs. Further, knowledge sharing through scientific articles with sufficient detail is needed to enable replication of successful models in other settings.
    Health Research Policy and Systems 06/2015; 13(1). DOI:10.1186/s12961-015-0017-8 · 1.86 Impact Factor
  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease 04/2012; 16(4):565; author reply 565-6. DOI:10.5588/ijtld.11.0762 · 2.76 Impact Factor
  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease 11/2011; 15(11):1421. DOI:10.5588/ijtld.11.0554 · 2.76 Impact Factor