\"A painstakingly primped coiffure\" – that is how a development writer described capacity building recently, illustrating development specialists' expansive jargon around a simple concept: investment that leads to individuals or institutions becoming self-sufficient rather than dependent. Usually used in relation to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) attaining a level of competency they have not yet reached, it is a rather old-fashioned concept laden with value judgements, but it is probably here to stay. So what does capacity building consist of? To start with, it is a lot more than training. The endgame for capacity building in health research is individuals, groups, and institutions in LMICs that are globally competitive: carrying out the best possible science to generate new and important research findings; using research effectively to guide research priorities as well as policy; and promoting the demand for research that addresses the needs of their own countries. The Cochrane Collaboration provides a brilliant vehicle for this development, conducting systematic reviews, promoting the use of research evidence, and enhancing research capacity through sustainable networks.
Young, T.; Garner, P.; Kredo, T.; Mbuagbaw, L.; Tharyan, P.; Volmink, J. Cochrane and Capacity Building in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Where are we at? Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2013) 11, Article No. ED000072. [DOI: 10.1002/14651858.ED000072]