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      Capacity development for health research in Africa: experiences managing the African Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship Program

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          Abstract

          Africa's progress depends on her capacity to generate, adapt, and use scientific knowledge to meet regional health and development needs. Yet, Africa's higher education institutions that are mandated to foster this capacity lack adequate resources to generate and apply knowledge, raising the need for innovative approaches to enhance research capacity. In this paper, we describe a newly-developed program to support PhD research in health and population sciences at African universities, the African Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship (ADDRF) Program. We also share our experiences implementing the program. As health research capacity-strengthening in Africa continues to attract attention and as the need for such programs to be African-led is emphasized, our experiences in developing and implementing the ADDRF offer invaluable lessons to other institutions undertaking similar initiatives.

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          Most of our social scientists are not institution based… they are there for hire—Research consultancies and social science capacity for health research in East Africa

           Daniel Wight (2008)
          There is a serious shortage of senior African social scientists to lead health-related research in Africa. This is despite the existence of many African social science graduates, and decades of Northern funded research programmes intended to develop local capacity. To investigate the barriers to developing health social science research capacity in East Africa, 29 in-depth interviews, informal conversations and a group discussion were conducted with professionals in this field. Respondents’ explanations for inadequate social science research capacity primarily related to under-development and global economic inequalities. However, a recurrent theme was the predominance of individually contracted research consultancies. These seem to divert university staff from academic research, supporting colleagues and training the next generation of researchers, stunt the institutional capacity of university departments, restrict the sharing of research findings and perpetuate donors’ control of the research agenda. Although primarily due to macro-economic factors, limited research capacity in sub-Saharan Africa might be ameliorated by modifying the process by which much research is conducted. This exploratory study suggests that institutional research capacity might be strengthened if consultancy research were commissioned through institutions, rather than individuals, with the payment of substantial overheads.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Health Res Policy Syst
            Health Research Policy and Systems
            BioMed Central
            1478-4505
            2010
            29 June 2010
            : 8
            : 21
            Affiliations
            [1 ]African Population and Health Research Center, 2nd Floor Shelter Afrique Centre, P.O. Box 10787-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
            Article
            1478-4505-8-21
            10.1186/1478-4505-8-21
            2907373
            20587016
            Copyright ©2010 Kabiru et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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            Health & Social care

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