21.07.2013 10:41

New SORT IT Programme kicks off

Categorie: Au Luxembourg, LuxOR

The third SORT IT programme was launched last week in Luxembourg and was hosted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). It is facilitated by MSF and the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (the Union), and co-funded by TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases.

SORT IT programmes aim to build up health worker capacity and skills to propose, conduct and write up operational research studies within their programs. Participants must propose a project that will be worked on and the eventual aim is to improve the program. “Before coming to the training, participants identify a problem in their program. During the training we help them to formulate a relevant research question, and then to design and conduct a study to explore this question,” explains Katherine Harries, MSF operational research fellow and facilitator at the course. "This will ultimately enable them to find ways to improve their program.”

There were 12 participants – a third of them were WHO staff from the European regional and country offices. These officers were there to learn more details about operational research so that SORT IT can be extended to Russian speaking countries.

“When there are gaps in data quality or completeness, this can affect assessing the efficiency of the program,” illustrates Gayane Ghukasyan, from the World Health Organization country office in Armenia. “Operational research is conducted in order to make recommendations to improve the program, so we can work around existing barriers and finally make recommendations on how to overcome specific problems that hinder program activities.”

The Luxembourg programme attracts participants working in diverse programs. Research proposals include studies in maternal health, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis programs or in programs for neglected diseases such as Chagas disease.

“Operational research is not a luxury, it is a necessity for health programs. It is essential to analyze and document what has worked well and what needs to be improved,” resumes Dr. Rony Zachariah, coordinator of operational research for MSF. ”Operational research is a tool to continually improve ourselves and be accountable to our patients”

Dr. Anne-Beatrice Kihara is a lecturer at the University of Nairobi and works part time at a facility for maternal health. “As a practitioner, I’ve always been curious how the data that we make in our facility can be used to improve our practices and evaluate if the policies and guidelines are being followed,” explains Anne-Beatrice. “While trying to understand operational research, what becomes evident is that your data is really your essential tool. Collect the right data and it will answer your questions appropriately."

The first two-week workshop introduces participants to the essentials in operational research while setting practical milestones. Participants must submit their research proposals and establish data figures for their analysis during this time. On completion of the workshop, participants continue their research project under the mentorship of a facilitator from MSF or the Union. “We have a saying that two brains work better than one, and here we have three brains, “smiles Gayane. “Mentors have each their strong side and help you work on all aspects of your project.”

SORT IT is a global initiative led by TDR, which is based at the World Health Organization.  MSF and The Union are key implementing partners.