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Open Access Building operational research capacity in the Pacific

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Operational research (OR) in public health aims to investigate strategies, interventions, tools or knowledge that can enhance the quality, coverage, effectiveness or performance of health systems. Attention has recently been drawn to the lack of OR capacity in public health programmes throughout the Pacific Islands, despite considerable investment in implementation. This lack of ongoing and critical reflection may prevent health programme staff from understanding why programme objectives are not being fully achieved, and hinder long-term gains in public health. The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) has been collaborating with Pacific agencies to conduct OR courses based on the training model developed by The Union and Médecins Sans Frontières Brussels-Luxembourg in 2009. The first of these commenced in 2011 in collaboration with the Fiji National University, the Fiji Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization and other partners. The Union and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community organised a second course for participants from other Pacific Island countries and territories in 2012, and an additional course for Fijian participants commenced in 2013. Twelve participants enrolled in each of the three courses. Of the two courses completed by end 2013, 18 of 24 participants completed their OR and submitted papers by the course deadline, and 17 papers have been published to date. This article describes the context, process and outputs of the Pacific courses, as well as innovations, adaptations and challenges.
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Keywords: Médecins Sans Frontières; The Union; capacity building; operational research

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: 1: International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), Paris, France 2: Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Noumea, New Caledonia 3: Division of TB Elimination, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA 4: National Tuberculosis Programme, Fiji Ministry of Health, Suva, Fiji 5: Operational Centre Brussels, Medical Department, Operational Research Unit, Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF-Luxembourg, Luxembourg 6: College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Fiji National University, Suva, Fiji 7: School of Population Health, the University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand 8: International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, South-East Asia Regional Office, New Delhi, India 9: Marie Bashir Institute for Emerging Infections and Biosecurity, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 10: Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 11: Global TB Programme, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland 12: Australian Centre for International and Tropical Health, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 13: Regional Public Health, Hutt Valley District Health Board, Lower Hutt, New Zealand

Publication date: June 21, 2014

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  • Public Health Action (PHA), The Union's quarterly open access on-line journal, provides a platform for its mission 'Health solutions for the poor'. PHA addresses the need for show-casing operational research that addresses issues in health systems and services. It publishes high-quality scientific research that provides new knowledge to improve access, equity, quality and efficiency of health systems and services.

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