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Open Access The Structured Operational Research and Training Initiative for public health programmes

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In 2009, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) and Médecins sans Frontières Brussels-Luxembourg (MSF) began developing an outcome-oriented model for operational research training. In January 2013, The Union and MSF joined with the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) at the World Health Organization (WHO) to form an initiative called the Structured Operational Research and Training Initiative (SORT IT). This integrates the training of public health programme staff with the conduct of operational research prioritised by their programme. SORT IT programmes consist of three one-week workshops over 9 months, with clearly-defined milestones and expected output. This paper describes the vision, objectives and structure of SORT IT programmes, including selection criteria for applicants, the research projects that can be undertaken within the time frame, the programme structure and milestones, mentorship, the monitoring and evaluation of the programmes and what happens beyond the programme in terms of further research, publications and the setting up of additional training programmes. There is a growing national and international need for operational research and related capacity building in public health. SORT IT aims to meet this need by advocating for the output-based model of operational research training for public health programme staff described here. It also aims to secure sustainable funding to expand training at a global and national level. Finally, it could act as an observatory to monitor and evaluate operational research in public health. Criteria for prospective partners wishing to join SORT IT have been drawn up.
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Keywords: Médecins Sans Frontières; SORT IT; The Union; WHO, TDR; capacity building; operational research

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: 1: Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, Bute Medical School, University of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, UK 2: International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), Paris, France, Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK 3: Médecins Sans Frontières – Operational Centre Brussels, Medical Department, Operational Research Unit (LuxOR), MSF-Luxembourg Luxembourg 4: International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), Paris, France, School of Population Health, The University of Auckland, New Zealand 5: International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), Paris, France, Center for International Health, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway 6: International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), Paris, France 7: International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), Paris, France, The Union South-East Asia Regional Office, New Delhi, India 8: Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Publication date: June 21, 2014

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  • Public Health Action (PHA), The Union's quarterly Open Access journal, welcomes the submission of articles on operational research. It publishes high-quality scientific research on health services, providing new knowledge on how to improve access, equity, quality and efficiency of health systems and services.

    The Editors will consider any manuscript reporting original research on quality improvements, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, training and capacity building, with a focus on all relevant areas of public health (e.g. infection control, nutrition, TB, HIV, vaccines, smoking, COVID-19, microbial resistance, outbreaks etc).

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