Low and middle-income countries remain overburdened with infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria with high levels of maternal and child mortality. Unfortunately such countries also often lack the expertise to research therapies and policy measures to fight these diseases for themselves. Operational Research (OR) into strategies and interventions that improve health service delivery, provides evidence to influence policies to promote better public health.
In response, DFID is providing £1 million over 3 years (2011 to 2014) to the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease (The Union) to support the expansion of a capacity building programme in OR. The programme provides targeted training and mentoring support to improve the capacity of front line health practitioners in low income countries across Afirca and Asia to carry out OR.
Capacity-building has long been recognised as important, but successes can be difficult. The Union took a particularly rigorous approach, putting applicants, who had to have a Masters’ degree or equivalent, through a tough selection process. Ambitious milestones were set and participants could only pass if they produced a peer-reviewed paper. This design has resulted in high-quality research, which will have a lasting impact.