The Career Development Fellowship (CDF) programme of the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR/World Health Organization) underwent an external evaluation by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH). The goal of the evaluation was to assess the programme’s past performance and determine recommendations for its future development and improvement, and the results have been recently published in the journal Plos NTDs.
“Both ISGlobal and the Swiss TPH are centres recognized for their experience in supporting capacity building in research centres in Africa (the Manhiça Health Research Centre in Mozambique and the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, respectively), which is why we were invited as external evaluators”, explains Nuria Casamitjana, director of the Training department at ISGlobal and one of the study’s authors. The evaluators applied a results-based methodology to assess the programme from four perspectives: relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, and impact and sustainability.
“It is a unique project and its impact has been high”, explains Dr. Casamitjana. “Some of the trained researchers are currently leading research centres or exerting other relevant positions in their countries. However, our evaluation revealed the need for a better reintegration of the researcher in his/her host institution at the end of the training period, in order to lower the risk of brain-drain. This recommendation has been taken into account, and now the host institution has become more engaged in the training process by appointing a tutor and guaranteeing an appropriate position and working environment upon the awardee’s return.” Another recommendation by the experts was to involve other major actors in product and clinical trial development in order to guarantee the program’s sustainability in the future. Thus, TDR has partnered with the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) in a joint call in order to expand the number of fellowships, involve more pharmaceutical companies and include other actors such as product development partnerships and research centres.
“For ISGlobal, this evaluation process has proved to be a highly valuable opportunity: it not only allows us to strengthen our relationship with two important partners (TDR and EDCTP), but it also positions us as experts in the building and strengthening of research capacities in Africa or Latin America”, concludes Nuria Casamitjana.
About the programme
The CDF was first launched in 1999 as a partnership between TDR and a pharmaceutical company (GSK), with the aim of promoting high-quality clinical research in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). A grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation enabled WHO/TDR to scale-up the programme and to engage the participation of additional pharmaceutical companies, and by ends of 2012, when the evaluation was undertaken, 27 fellows had completed their training.
Käser M, Maure C, Halpaap BM, Vahedi M, Yamaka S, Launois P, Casamitjana N. Research Capacity Strengthening in Low and Middle Income Countries - An Evaluation of the WHO/TDR Career Development Fellowship Programme. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2016 May 25;10(5):e0004631