Capacity building in operational research: More than one way to slice the cake

The importance of programmatically relevant operational research (OR) as a key driver to strengthen public health activities is well recognised. Moreover, building capacity of health workers from high-disease burden countries to independently conduct OR on priority issues within their health services is accepted as an essential component of public health programs. However, the approach taken in building local OR capacity varies widely between training initiatives. Program managers and those responsible for planning OR training activities may thus be left asking themselves what the best approach is for their own setting? The Union-MSF model is the training model adopted by the Structured Operational Research and Training Initiative (SORT IT), a global partnership led by the Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases at the World Health Organization. This paper documents the undeniable evidence which has set the standard for hands-on, milestone-based training with an emphasis on tangible outputs – marked largely by the submission of research papers to peer-reviewed scientific journals

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