Promoting implementation research for accelerating universal health coverage

TDR news item
30 July 2019

In recent years, the field of implementation research has been steadily growing in disease-endemic countries. TDR has been a pioneer in partnering with universities and other training institutions in low- and middle-income countries to build both individual and institutional research capacity.

The role of implementation research in accelerating universal health coverage was showcased at the recent Global Conference on Implementation Science, which was hosted by BRAC University’s James P. Grant School of Public Health in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 29 June – 1 July 2019. BRAC is one of the seven universities TDR partners with on the postgraduate training scheme, which offers full scholarships to students who obtain Masters degrees focused on implementation research in malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases.


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"Research questions need to be formulated in collaboration with the implementers."

Professor Malabika Sarker
Director of CoE-SISU at BRAC University

The conference was co-hosted by BRAC’s Centre of Excellence for Science of Implementation and Scale-Up (CoE-SISU) and UNICEF Bangladesh, and co-sponsored by TDR. The event presented a welcome opportunity to promote implementation research as a key tool for achieving universal health coverage.

“Implementation research is useful for supporting delivery of evidence-based interventions and also for strengthening the system in which the intervention is being delivered,” said Olakunle Alonge, Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The importance of stakeholder engagement when conducting research was also highlighted.

“Implementation research is all about supporting implementers, improving the programme and improving the life of the community, not about publishing in Lancet. So research questions need to be formulated in collaboration with the implementers,” said Professor Malabika Sarker, Director of CoE-SISU at BRAC University.

Strengthening capacity to produce high-quality evidence is needed to inform policy and decision-making that will improve access to health services and interventions, especially among vulnerable and neglected populations.

TDR’s postgraduate training scheme has been serving to build this capacity, and seven graduates from the universities implementing the scheme -- in Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia, Lebanon, South Africa, and Zambia – presented their implementation research projects on neglected tropical diseases and TB. Read more about the seven graduates.

“This was the first time we brought together students and faculty from the seven universities, including the host of the conference, BRAC University,” said Mahnaz Vahedi, TDR manager of the postgraduate training scheme. “This demonstrates that implementation research capacity is now firmly established in low- and middle-income countries.”

All sessions from the conference have been recorded and are available here. Some highlights can be viewed below:

John Reeder, Director, TDR
TDR: Supporting implementation research to accelerate universal health coverage


Olakunle Alonge, Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA
How implementation research strengthens health systems to achieve universal health coverage: the example of a pay-for-performance strategy in Afghanistan


Vijayaprasad Gopichandran, Assistant Professor, ESIC Medical College & PGIMSR, India
Ethical considerations in implementation research in resource limited settings


Professor Malabika Sarker, Director of CoE-SISU, BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, Bangladesh
Conducting Implementation Research: Un Voyage Difficile


For more information, contact Makiko Kitamura, TDR Communications Officer
E-mail: kitamuram@who.int.