COUNTDOWN partners from Cameroon,Nigeria, Liberia, UK and the USA, attended the Global Conference on Implementation Science and Scale-Up in Dhaka, Bangladesh from the 29th June to 1st July 2019.
The conference was organised by the Centre of Excellence for Science of Implementation and Scale-up (CoE-SISU), BRAC James P. Grant School of Public Health at BRAC University and UNICEF Bangladesh. It was attended by over 117 participants from Africa, Asia, South America and Europe with diverse backgrounds in research, policy and implementation.
Dr Theobald Nji from the COUNTDOWN Buea team, in Cameroon gave a well-received presentation on 'Community engagement: A Critical factor in scaling-up adherence to MDA towards NTDs elimination' during a session on ‘Fighting Towards Elimination of NTDs, Polio & Malaria’.
During the session on ‘Engaging Stakeholders in Implementation Research for a Strengthened Health System’, Alice Perkins - the Research Manager for the Liberia team presented on ‘The use of visual methods to disseminate research findings and promote bottom-up solution development to health systems challenges’. She began her presentation by thanking Bangladesh & Brac International for the critical role they played in the peace process in Liberia, rebuilding trust and tackling poverty. Following her presentation, Mrs Perkins was commended by Professor Syed Masud Ahmed, Director of Centre of Excellence for Health Systems and Universal Health Coverage at Brac James P Grant School of Public Health on Liberia’s use of innovative use of visual methods to strengthen community engagement on NTDs.
Presenting at the same session was Dr Kim Ozano from the social science team based at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. She presented on Participatory action research to strengthen health systems: Key reflections from researchers and health system implementers in Liberia and Nigeria.
Our partner from FHI360 and Research Uptake lead, Dr Theresa Hoke gave a presentation on ‘Calling Time on Neglected Tropical Diseases: COUNTDOWN’s approach to maximizing the influence of implementation research on NTD policy and programming’.
From Nigeria, James Nuphi gave a presentation on Implementation research: Applying a participatory action research approach to co-create community engagement and implementation strategies in a Nigerian urban context. Dr Akinola Oluwole highlighted the gains of ‘Revitalising multi-sectoral approaches for the delivery of health interventions: Bridging the gap between the health and education sectors.
Dr Akinola gave a second presentation at a session on Fighting Towards Elimination of NTDs, Polio & Malaria delving into 'Optimising the performance of frontline implementers engaged in the NTD programme in Nigeria: Lessons for strengthening community health systems for Universal Health Coverage'.
Mr Nuphi also participated in a panel discussion on Accountability for Equity in Urban Informal Health: Lessons from the ARISE Partnership.
The team drew lessons from attending this conference and gained an in-depth understanding when it comes to implementation science and scale-up. They understood the different conceptual models used across implementationa reserach (IR) to inform data collection and analysis. Another key learning point for the team was the inter-relatedness of implementation and operational research as enhancers of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Further learning was received on how implementation research (IR) entails systematic approach to understanding and addressing barriers of effective implementation of health interventions, strategies and policies; meanwhile operational research (OR) uses data routinely collected by disease control programmes to provide ways of improving efficient and equitable care.
Finally, the team learnt that implementation science helps to extend the corridoes of science into communities.Scientists need to learn how to communicate with people on the field or in the communities. This is key in gaining the trust of community members and putting across the message of the research to their comprehension, out of this the research remains in the laboratory and in journals.This is because when some sicence is put into the minds of community members, programme implementers and policy makers, a dialogue is created. This dialogue engineers multi-sectoral partnering as a means to develop sustainable strategies to scale-up towards elimination of NTDs.
In conclusion, implementation research is one of the keys to the achievement of universal health coverage as it helps to address the challenges relating to issues of availability, accessibility and equity of health interventions. TDR and WHO's Global Health Ethics developed a course for researchers and research ethics committees on the important ethical considerations in implementation research (IR).