New implementation research toolkit piloted
Twenty-seven participants from 7 African countries recently completed a test of the new TDR implementation research toolkit. The toolkit is designed to help researchers identify bottlenecks that limit effective delivery and access to medical interventions for those in need of them. It includes modules that cover conceptualization to dissemination and advocacy of the research results.
The researchers brought implementation research (IR) plans with them to test the effectiveness of the tools. These covered a range of topics, including stigma and discrimination against people living with AIDS, community treatment of Yaws, equity and information on malaria diagnosis and treatment in the private sector, tuberculosis among health care workers, and migration of human resources for health.
The health staff and researchers were from Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Uganda, Somalia, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe. They came from different experiences, and each brought perspectives from their countries that illuminated the serious challenges many face.
"Our country is new, we are rebuilding from the civil war that destroyed so much of our health infrastructure."
"Most of the health research is led by outside groups not from this country. We want to have the capacity to identify our priorities and conduct the research ourselves."
"We conduct implementation research in our country, but we need to build a strong network with the Ministry of Health to ensure commitment to putting what is learned into practice."
The workshop provided the opportunity to learn what people are doing in different countries, and to build a network of trained implementation researchers. It was also designed to get feedback from participants on its effectiveness, which overall was quite high. People also asked for more case studies and ongoing support and mentorship.
"There is a need to replicate the course in the local institutions so that the dissemination process for the materials is continued and sustained," said Henry Wamani from Uganda. "The concept of IR itself needs to be made known to researchers and implementers."
The toolkit was created to provide more consistent approaches to this growing field of research. The idea for this came of a project supported by the USAID and the WHO Implementation Research Platform. The first step was to look at what kind of training materials were currently available, compare them, analyse the differences, and develop a draft that applies best practices most useful in low- and middle-income countries. The process was overseen at TDR, with a global committee comprising researchers, implementers and funders of implementation projects.
The experiences of this workshop and the participant comments are being used to finalize the toolkit, which will be made available more broadly by the end of 2013.
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