Looking back 10 years and looking forward 5 years - as the INDEPTH Executive Director marks 10th anniversary (2007-2017)

Objective 2: To stimulate, co-ordinate and conduct cutting-edge multicentre health and demographic research

Summary: In the past decade, INDEPTH working groups have continued to conduct high quality research in cutting edge areas such as adult health and ageing, migration and urbanisation, vaccinations and child survival, maternal and child health, effectiveness and safety studies of antimalarials, universal health coverage, social determinants of health, genomic studies, climate change and health, health systems, sexual and reproductive health, cause of death determination, communicable and non-communicable diseases, education, and antibiotic resistance. The number of multi-site projects has continued to increase, while INDEPTH Scientific Conferences have attracted high-level policy-makers, scientists and journal editors from across the world.

Indicator 2.1: Increasing the activity level of Working Groups and INDEPTH science

·      Member centres, Working Groups and the Resource & Training Centre increased efforts to develop grant proposals. The following working groups representing thematic areas were active in the period under review:

o   Adult Health and Ageing

o   Migration, Urbanisation and Health

o   Environment and Health

o   Vaccinations and Child Survival

o   Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

o   Malaria

o   Education

o   Sexual and Reproductive Health

o   Health Systems

o   Social Science

o   Antibiotics Resistance

o   Cause of Death Determination

o   Fertility Analysis

o   Mortality Analysis

o   NCD in Asia

  • Successfully organised over the last decade the INDEPTH Scientific Conferences and attracted Presidents, Ministers, Vice Chancellors and other internationally famous individuals as guests of honour and keynote speakers. Editors of high-impact journals, partners from reputable institutions in the North and South attended the ISCs.
  • We successfully engaged the Network and all its stakeholders to always develop strategic plans for INDEPTH. The latest plan is for the 2017-2021 period.
Indicator 2.2: Increasing the number of multi-centre proposals
  • Explored diverse research topics through development of multi-centre research proposals. In 2016-2017 alone, 13 thematic research areas were conceptualized through 23 proposals that were developed by the Network and submitted for funding. These included: nutrition and climate change, teacher effectiveness in rural and border towns, surgery and anaesthesia care, sickle cell, data access within communities, enhancing quality malaria care, NCDs, migration,  
  • Targeted multiple funders in our efforts to fundraise such as: The Gates Foundation (US), Comic relief and GSK (UK), Swiss national science foundation (Switzerland), Economic Social Research Council (UK), European Commission (EU), Doris Duke (US), USAID (US), NIA (US), AESA/AAA (Africa), CIDA (Canada), Rockfeller Foundation (Kenya), WHO (Geneva) and the Government of Ghana.
  • Continued to maintain existing research partnerships and pursue new strategic ones in Africa, Asia, Europe, America and Australasia.
Indicator 2.3: Increasing the number of multi-centre grants and consultancies
  • The multiple grants which we have been awarded reflect a wide range of research areas that have served to strengthen the capacity and expertise of the network. Our projects have ranged from antibiotic resistance through the ABACUS project, to maternal and child health (ENAP), sexual and reproductive health (EVIDENCE), health systems and household expenditure (iHOPE), and pharmacovigilance (pyramax study).
  • We have been able to a global Network: Africa, Asia and the Pacific working together through our multi-centre research. Recent projects like Comprehensive Health and Epidemiological Surveillance System (CHESS), ENAP, ABACUS, and iHOPE include both Asian, Oceanian and African HDSS sites.
  • Strengthened use of the Resource Centre’s consultancy function to host workshops for international organisations and jointly implement projects.
Indicator 2.4: Increasing the number of multi-centre publications
  • Growth in the number of centre-specific publications appearing in tens of high impact journals
  • An increasing number of multi-centre papers, systematic review papers and briefs on Nutrition,
  • Maternal health, Malaria, Fertility, Education, HIV mortality and Family Planning written.
    22 cause-specific mortality papers published in special supplement of Global Health Action.
Key challenges in the pursuance of this objective
  • Member centres must work hard for their own survival in the difficult funding landscape, hence it is not always easy for them to focus on Network activities.
  • A difficult balance between the Resource Centre strengthening its own scientific capacity to develop research proposals (hence its payroll will rise), but centres not always having the willingness and resources to do so for the Network since they must strive to be strong themselves.
  • Limited resources for more advanced data visualisations of INDEPTH datasets to make INDEPTH more internationally visible.
Policy Engagement and Communications