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Article

Investing in Operational Research Capacity Building for Front-Line Health Workers Strengthens Countries’ Resilience to Tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic

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UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank, WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Disease (TDR), 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
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Center for Operational Research, International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), 75006 Paris, France
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Center for Operational Research, The Union South-East Asia (USEA), New Delhi 110016, India
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Country Health Policies and Systems, World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
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Community Medicine, Yenepoya Medical College (Deemed to Be University), Yenepoya, Mangalore 575018, India
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Reproductive Health and Family Planning Program, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Freetown 23222, Sierra Leone
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London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1 7HT, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2020, 5(3), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/tropicalmed5030118
Received: 27 June 2020 / Revised: 14 July 2020 / Accepted: 15 July 2020 / Published: 16 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19: Current Challenges and Future Perspectives)
(1) Introduction. The Structured Operational Research and Training IniTiative (SORT IT) supports countries to build operational research capacity for improving public health. We assessed whether health workers trained through SORT IT were (1) contributing to the COVID-19 pandemic response and if so, (2) map where and how they were applying their SORT IT skills. (2) Methods. An online questionnaire survey of SORT IT alumni trained between 2009 and 2019. (3) Results. Of 895 SORT IT alumni from 93 countries, 652 (73%) responded to the survey and 417 were contributing to the COVID-19 response in 72 countries. Of those contributing, 307 (74%) were applying their SORT IT skills to tackle the pandemic in 60 countries and six continents including Africa, Asia, Europe, South Pacific and North/South America. Skills were applied to all the pillars of the emergency response with the highest proportions of alumni applying their skills in data generation/analysis/reporting (56%), situation analysis (55%) and surveillance (41%). Skills were also being used to mitigate the health system effects of COVID-19 on other diseases (27%) and in conducting research (26%). (4) Conclusion. Investing in people and in research training ahead of public health emergencies generates downstream dividends by strengthening health system resilience for tackling pandemics. It also strengthens human resources for health and the integration of research within health systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; operational research; health systems; SORT IT; pandemics; training COVID-19; operational research; health systems; SORT IT; pandemics; training
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MDPI and ACS Style

Zachariah, R.; Dar Berger, S.; Thekkur, P.; Khogali, M.; Davtyan, K.; Kumar, A.M.V.; Satyanarayana, S.; Moses, F.; Aslanyan, G.; Aseffa, A.; Harries, A.D.; Reeder, J.C. Investing in Operational Research Capacity Building for Front-Line Health Workers Strengthens Countries’ Resilience to Tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic. Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2020, 5, 118. https://doi.org/10.3390/tropicalmed5030118

AMA Style

Zachariah R, Dar Berger S, Thekkur P, Khogali M, Davtyan K, Kumar AMV, Satyanarayana S, Moses F, Aslanyan G, Aseffa A, Harries AD, Reeder JC. Investing in Operational Research Capacity Building for Front-Line Health Workers Strengthens Countries’ Resilience to Tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic. Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease. 2020; 5(3):118. https://doi.org/10.3390/tropicalmed5030118

Chicago/Turabian Style

Zachariah, Rony; Dar Berger, Selma; Thekkur, Pruthu; Khogali, Mohammed; Davtyan, Karapet; Kumar, Ajay M.V.; Satyanarayana, Srinath; Moses, Francis; Aslanyan, Garry; Aseffa, Abraham; Harries, Anthony D.; Reeder, John C. 2020. "Investing in Operational Research Capacity Building for Front-Line Health Workers Strengthens Countries’ Resilience to Tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic" Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 5, no. 3: 118. https://doi.org/10.3390/tropicalmed5030118

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