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Union editorial calls for increased Global Fund investment in operational research for national TB Programmes

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The Union’s Centre for Operational Research has published an editorial in the IJTLD calling on the Global Fund to support and strengthen operational research in national TB Programmes.

The Union’s Centre for Operational Research has published an editorial in the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IJTLD) calling on the Global Fund to support and strengthen operational research (OR) in national tuberculosis (TB) Programmes.

The article highlights how investment in OR is essential to the effort to end TB, by effectively implementing proven interventions, showing how new products can be introduced and deployed, and by ensuring that they are available to everyone who needs them, using people-centred approaches.

To address issues of demand and capacity, the editorial makes three key recommendations:

  • the Global Fund should identify a cost category for TB-related OR;
  • Fund Portfolio Managers should be aware of the benefits of OR and how this should be conducted, monitored and evaluated; and
  • the outcomes of any research supported by the Global Fund should be tracked and reported by the Fund. 

Professor Tony Harries, Senior Advisor (Research) and lead author, said: “To achieve the targets identified in the United Nations High-Level Meeting (UN HLM) on TB, and to realise our ambition to end TB, will require significant investment in OR. In support of this, the Global Fund needs to make OR capacity building and OR a priority.”

In April 2019, The Union held a webinar on Embedding operational research into a National Tuberculosis Control Programme  (now open access). The webinar focussed on how OR, if relevant and well-conducted, can improve the performance of national TB control programmes. Webinar participants reported difficulties in obtaining funding for OR, with several pinpointing the Global Fund’s lack of support for national programme-directed OR.

This debate prompted a second webinar, Financial support for OR within Global Fund investments, broadcast last month, in which a case study of a Global Fund-supported OR capacity building project, under Project Axshya, facilitated building OR capacity in India, and ultimately influenced policy and practice. Dr Mohammed Yassin, Senior TB Advisor of the Global Fund, then presented how best to include OR in upcoming proposals.

Being a member of The Union means webinars can be exclusively accessed for a three-month period prior to them becoming public. Members also benefit from a free subscription to the IJTLD. Find out more about becoming a member of The Union to access these exclusive benefits.