COUNTDOWN is a multidisciplinary research consortium working across four African countries (Ghana, Cameroon, Liberia and Nigeria) and the UK, dedicated to investigating cost-effective, scale-up and sustainable solutions necessary to control and eliminate the seven most common Neglected Tropical Diseases by 2020.
The consortium was formed in 2014 and is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID). CRU’s role in COUNTDOWN is to facilitate effective research capacity strengthening activities within the consortium. It was decided that CRU would initially focus on the research management systems of two key partners to strengthen their capacity to conduct implementation research on NTDs. The first site visit took place in March 2016 with further visits to be scheduled.
How CRU works with consortia partners within COUNTDOWN:
During a week-long site visit, the CRU team conducted interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders across the organisation, ensuring a range of perspectives were obtained. In collaboration with Centre Director and other key staff, the study team identified priority areas where research capacity gaps need to be addressed. These include:
- Institutional Support Services: Establishing a team to provide administrative and logistical assistance with the funding proposal process; developing standard operating procedures for data management.
- Research Facilities: Reorganising office space to create quiet study spaces; changing procedures to routinely include costs of research equipment and software into funding proposals; developing resource sharing systems to increase access to literature.
- Human Resources: Developing an induction process for new staff; updating staff job descriptions to match existing roles; identifying where senior staff responsibilities can be shared or delegated; revising, disseminating and implementing promotion guidelines.
- Training Activities for Research: Identifying staff training needs and exploring existing projects and external funding for training opportunities
- External Promotion of Research: Developing more effective engagement strategies with the national level health service to facilitate research uptake; holding dissemination workshops with key research messages.
The CRU team is supporting the project partner to translate these needs into a detailed action plan to help monitor and track the research capacity strengthening process.