Global Distribution of Tropical Diseases

Communities of practice

TropIKA.net Partnerships


South-South Initiative for Tropical Diseases Research
Initiative to Strengthen Health Research Capacity in Africa (ISHReCA)
Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (malERA)
Research Partnerships for Neglected Diseases of Poverty

About TropIKA.net

TropIKA.net has been designed as a service provided by TDR. TropIKA.net is an independent platform for sharing information and allow stakeholders to express their views. The views expressed in journalistic commentaries are the journalist or the stakeholders' own and do not necessarily reflect those of TDR.

The Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) has established TropIKA.net as a global knowledge management electronic portal to share essential information and to facilitate identification of priority needs and major research gaps in the field of infectious diseases of poverty. TropIKA is designed for the knowledge management component of the "Stewardship" function in the new TDR Ten Year Vision and Strategy, http://www.who.int/tdr/about/strategy/strategy_06.htmExternal Link. The new strategy will help focus global efforts on priority needs in infectious diseases research in disease endemic countries.

What Is TropIKA.net?

TropIKA.net (Tropical Disease Research to foster Innovation and Knowledge Application) is a web-based platform for the acquisition, review and sharing of current information and knowledge on:

  • Public health research needs and scientific opportunities
  • Research-based evidence in support of control and policy
  • High profile research activities and control projects
  • International research funding and support opportunities
  • Potential innovations for interventions and control of infectious diseases of poverty.

Rationale for TropIKA.net

Priority research needs are unequally covered by the global research agenda. Several high-impact research areas are still neglected. There is a need to increase the engagement of disease-endemic countries in global research planning and agenda setting in infectious diseases which predominantly affect poor populations. Informed participation of disease endemic countries in the global research agenda setting is often prevented by limited access to scientific information and essential knowledge. Rapid advances in the field of information technology have made it possible to share and deliver information at higher speeds and lower costs and several initiatives aiming at enabling access to high quality, scientific information, via Internet, are now in place. However researchers and policy makers face the other problem of haphazard flow of scientific information for which they lack time to screen, awareness of what is relevant and essential for their domain of activities and skills for interpretation and application in health interventions.

Starting in 2004, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) with several partners, has carried out research on the needs of health researchers in order to find a solution to alleviate these problems. Conclusions from these research, survey and wide consultation with traditional and new stakeholders in infectious diseases of poverty underpin the development of this knowledge management platform (TropIKA.net). TropIKA is designed to enhance access and to share essential knowledge with health researchers and policy makers dedicated to improving control of infectious diseases of poverty.

Survey on needs of researchers in Infectious diseases of poverty

Several research, surveys and analysis conducted between 2004 and 2006 as part of efforts for developing TropIKA.net were also designed to gain a better understanding of how user needs, business model, and content would intersect to form the foundation of the platform. These activities included:

  • An online feasibility study. In November 2004, TDR sponsored a follow-up to the initial feasibility study (conducted with AAAS in Jan-March 2004) to determine more precisely the requirement of the tropical disease research community for a proposed tropical diseases information web site. Of the 5,000 researchers who received the survey, 615 (roughly 13%) responded, providing a solid foundation for clarifying the content to be included in the TropIKA web site. In total 1,203 individual researchers responded to both surveys (March and November 2004). Some 71% of respondents had individual internet access with the incidence of shared computers and slow internet speed determined by the geographical region in which they were working. Asked to choose which information was essential, respondents selected: access to full text of journals (92%); research funding information (77%); research reports (67%); research news and related information (64%). This initial research has served as a key source of user research for the TropIKA platform.
  • Stakeholder interviews. Dynamic Diagrams, a company to whom the information architecture design of the site was outsourced, interviewed five stakeholders, including members of the TDR Joint Coordinating Board, TDR communication and scientific staff, and the project manager of the WHO led Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI) to assess organizational needs and expectations for TropIKA.
  • User interviews. Four prospective users of the TropIKA site (three research scientists and one policymaker) were interviewed.
  • A review of web sites. To gain a better understanding of the online landscape of which TropIKA.net would be a part, a number of existing web sites that might be considered either a model for or a prospective resource to include in the site were reviewed.
  • A Web Site Requirements Document. Based on the findings from the activities above, a Web Site Requirements Document categorized the various TropIKA requirements in view of building the site

Based on these research, five business goals were identified:

  1. Leverage existing articles and resources that are already online, offering a "one-stop shop" these material
  2. Increase accessibility to full-text articles through collaboration with the HINARI initiatives, open access publishers (SciELO, PLos) and the US, National Library of Medicine (PubMed)
  3. Deliver information to users in a meaningful way. Present content in a way that has been sorted and consolidated by disease type, focusing on infectious diseases of poverty, and type of resources (scholarly literature, funding information, research reports, news, etc.)
  4. Demonstrate unique value to users by providing original comprehensive and authoritative reviews and policy briefs on current research efforts in infectious diseases of poverty achieved by creating a dedicated Editorial Team guided by an international Editorial/Advisory Board.
  5. Offer a new level of interactivity to users. The platformis expected to be an interactive venue for researchers and policy makers working in the field of diseases of poverty, through posting comments, moderated forums, blogs and communities of practice

The Primary goals of TropIKA.net are to

  • Present up-to-date content in a context that makes sense for health researchers and policy makers
  • Improve access to scientific information on infectious diseases of poverty
  • Facilitate broad-based participation of disease-endemic countries in discussions and the formulation of current and emerging research priorities and agenda setting
  • Provide health researchers and decision makers with a comprehensive resource about best practices and authoritative summaries of research findings that have implications for their efforts to meet the challenges of infectious disease control.
  • Be used as an interactive knowledge platform for infectious diseases of poverty at health forums

Partners participating in the TropIKA.net initiative to date

  • TDR (UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases)
  • BIREME/PAHO/WHO, in Brazil: hosts and manages the portal
  • HINARI: provides access to full text journals in specific countries
  • The Global Heath Library (GHL) and the Virtual Health Library (VHL)
  • Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases (and PLoS in general) for sharing "open access" scientific content and technology
  • SciELO journals and other open access journals

A glimpse at TropIKA.net information architecture

All content can be sorted by disease and then by types of resources:

  • Research News
  • Commissioned, Comprehensive Thematic Reviews
  • Literature (research and review articles) with comments
  • Virtual journals
  • Policy and strategy briefs for infectious diseases of poverty
  • Funding opportunities
  • Networks (communities of practice, forums)
  • Resources (training packages, factual databases, multimedia)
  • Blogs

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