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Lessons from 15 countries: Global HIV/AIDS Initiatives Research Network

Date: Thursday 1 November 13.30–15.00
Source: Forum 11
Authors: Ruairi Brugha, Head of Department, Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine, Population Health Sciences, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Ireland
with Aisling Walsh, Neil Spicer and Gill Walt

Abstract

The Global HIV/AIDS Initiatives Research Network (GHIN), 2006­09, is a network of 17 research groups in 15 countries across Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia (including China) and Latin America, supported by researchers in six northern countries (see www.ghin.lshtm.ac.uk for membership). Studies are assessing the effects of global initiatives on country systems, with most studies focusing on equity of access to HIV-related services at the sub-national level. The network, funded by two donors, is supported by coordinators based in Dublin and London. Five other donors are funding the country studies.

The objectives of GHIN are to: 1) Promote comparability of approaches, methods and research tools across studies with similar objectives; 2) Share expertise across country study teams, build research capacity and promote best research practice; 3) Generate multi-country comparisons and context-specific policy lessons; and 4) Coordinate dissemination of findings and communication with global stakeholders.

Thus far, the results of GHIN are: 1) In response to members' requests, the network funded regional workshops in Ukraine and Malawi to promote common research approaches in concentrated and generalized HIV epidemics. 2) Members agreed standardized approaches and methods, and country teams have adapted from common research instruments to facilitate comparability. Most studies are independently funded, which has created a new network dynamic, enabling `southern' researchers to decide how they address country-specific contexts. 3) Lesson sharing has occurred across countries, because some country researchers have moved more quickly to implement sub-national level studies. The network has funded south-south capacity-building, utilizing the experience of `early starters'. 4) Coordination with other studies is being facilitated, which will be crucial if Global Fund five-year evaluations take place in countries that are implementing GHIN studies. 5) Equitable access to research findings on the country-level effects of global initiatives is a network function, making these available to government and nongovernment knowledge users at global, national and sub-national levels.

Other lessons (February to October 2007) will be shared.

This systematic network approach to collating research into common issues of global and cross-country importance, provides a middle ground between multi-country self-evaluations, funded by global initiatives, and a multiplicity of uncoordinated independent studies of variable quality and focus.