Research for stronger health systems during and after crisis

ReBUILD descends on Research Uptake meeting en masse!

Tuesday, 17 Mar 2015

Nick Hooton, Research Practice and Policy Advisor for ReBUILD, on the ResUpMeetUp Symposium and Training Exchange for Research Uptake which starts tomorrow in Nairobi, and why the ReBUILD team are there.

Members of all the ReBUILD country partners have arrived in Nairobi for the ResUpMeetUp Symposium and Training Exchange. As Research, Policy and Practice Advisor for the ReBUILD Consortium, with primary responsibility for research uptake (RU), I’ve had my eye on this meeting for a long time. And while I’m really excited about it, and so pleased we’ve got representation from all our country partners, we’re not actually sure what to expect from this meeting!

It’s a very ambitious meeting, both a 2-day Symposium with the aim of developing a deeper understanding of the concept of ‘research uptake’ and to explore specific emerging issues, as well as a 2-day ‘Training Exchange’.

It’s the breadth of the meeting that makes it both interesting and a challenge. From keynote addresses on ‘The evidence-gap challenge in parliament’ from a member of one of Kenya’s Parliamentary Committees, to the links between theoretical frameworks for RU and practical approaches, how much to ‘synthesise’ evidence for RU, and discussions on a large number of technical and technological tools and approaches. Plus lots on IT and social media. Some of these areas will be explored more deeply in a number of parallel sessions.

And the sessions on offer for the Training Exchange are themselves very wide-ranging, from one on the broad development of a RU strategy from a donor’s perspective, a training on ‘crafting issue briefs’, one on media engagement in southern contexts, to a large number of ‘technical’ training sessions on data visualisation, video, some specific IT programmes and tools for RU, including monitoring the use of the growing range of IT and social media outlets for research programmes. And many more!

We’re even delivering a training session ourselves, myself together with Sarah Ssali from our Makerere University School of Public Health team. We’re doing an as-yet untried training session on issues around the use of the voices of poor stakeholders themselves as part of research uptake activities.

If we didn’t know already, it shows how immensely diverse and complicated this area we call ‘research uptake’ actually is, and the range of understanding and skills we need to operate effectively in it. So it will be great to have this opportunity to benefit from the discussions and training on offer to develop and broaden our own skills.

But more than anything else, I am hoping that our team members from Zimbabwe, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and the UK will get enthused with 4 days of discussions and practical training on this complex and challenging area, and be even more motivated to apply our collected skills, working to support each other in our diverse contexts. Immensely challenging, but after all, it’s what ReBUILD is all about – working in a way that maximises the chances of our research evidence actually changing things for the benefit of the poor in post-conflict environments.

It all kicks off tomorrow, and we hope to be sharing as we go along. So watch our Twitter feed @REBUILDRPC, and watch this space as well!