COUNTDOWN has been successful in establishing networks that will be sustained to influence change to NTD policy and practice.
NTD Community of Practice
COUNTDOWN researchers are working with the COR-NTD taskforce and other institutions to establish a community of practice for NTD social science and implementation research methods and techniques to be shared across the network. The first planning meeting was held in November 2019 after the main COR-NTD meeting. A key activity for this network will be focused on building junior researcher skills in this area and ensuring wide country engagement.
COVID Social Science Network
COUNTDOWN researchers are part of a collaborative network of global health researchers that draw on expertise and partnerships both within Liverpool based institutions (LSTM, UoL, LJMU) and further afield, specifically, colleagues at the institute of development studies (IDS) as well as GCRF/UKRI ARISE Programme partners overseas (for example in Sierra Leone, Kenya, Bangladesh and India). The network was established to look at the health systems challenges and dilemmas of COVID – 19 that would benefit from rapid community health systems and social science response(s). The network aims to move thinking beyond virology, clinical trials, modelling and laboratory diagnostics towards ways that social science and community-based research approaches can contribute and add value to the response both in the immediate time frame, future peaks and in the rebuilding process.
WHO Gender Equity Rights Network
We have been active in the Gender, Equity and Rights working group (made up of donors, partners and researchers) who aim to improve gender responsiveness in NTD programming and ensure no one is left behind. This working group began with a meeting on Women, Girls and NTDs in London, 2016, in which COUNTDOWN participated. Momentum continued from this point and included action at subsequent annual WHO NTD STAG Working Group Monitoring and Evaluation meetings where COUNTDOWN was represented and our work on the WHO Gender Equity and Rights tool was presented. By working in collaboration with key stakeholders to strengthen the arguments, capacity and approaches, COUNTDOWN can contribute to building more gender transformative NTD programmes and to ensure that monitoring and evaluation systems capture disaggregated data on gender and equity. COUNTDOWN staff are also active members of NNN network disease management and disability inclusion working group, who also took part in the April 20 virtual spring meeting broadening networks and cross learning.
COUNTDOWN and its established research partnerships, led to the creation of a newly funded NIHR research programme, established to Reduce the Burden of Stigmatising Skin Diseases (REDRESS) in Liberia. A joint event took place between REDRESS and COUNTDOWN in February 2020 in order to launch the extension period and the beginning of the newly established NTD research programme. LSTM colleagues from the Centre for Health Systems Strengthening and the Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases were present as well as the Liberian research teams for both projects, Ministry of Health partners and other key stakeholders. REDRESS will run until 2023, beyond the life of COUNTDOWN, continuing to influence change to NTD policy and practice. During the event Dr Frances Kateh, the Liberian Chief Medical Officer, described his recognition and appreciation toward the COUNTDOWN programme that has contributed significantly to strengthening research capacity in Liberia to support Liberian leadership within the COUNTDOWN extension and in the development and delivery of the REDRESS project.