This paper reports on a partnership between LEPRA, a non-governmental organization (NGO), and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) to explore the feasibility and appropriateness of incorporating operations research into the management and decision-making of a leprosy NGO. A pilot study in Orissa was used to determine the advantages and disadvantages of introducing operations research to assist in decision-making and programme implementation within the organization. The results highlight the difficulty and complexity of the process, but point to several important themes: partnership, changing perspectives, use of time and priority-setting, identification of gaps in systems, and building institutional and personal capabilities. The results of the study provide support to encourage NGOs to become actively involved in research. Because of their work and service to local communities, NGOs have the opportunity to collect information about the perceptions, resources and constraints of individuals, families and the communities themselves in accessing appropriate care. Their proximity to communities gives them a feeling of responsibility for ensuring that this information is translated to the district, national and ultimately international level. This will help to ensure the creation of appropriate infectious disease control policies that support the needs of patients. ‘Outside’ academic institutions can help NGOs to facilitate this up-stream flow of information from the local to the national and international level, to help to ensure that international disease control policies are appropriately serving local communities.
Porter, J.D.H.; Ogden, J.A.; Rangandadha Rao, P.V.; Prabhakar Rao, V.; Rajesh, D.; Buskade, R.A.; Soutar, D. Introducing operations research into management and policy practices of a non-governmental organization (NGO): a partnership between an Indian leprosy NGO and an international academic institution. Health Policy and Planning (2004) 19 (2) 80-87. [DOI: 10.1093/heapol/czh010]