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Call for Proposal “Implementation Research to Address Priority Immunization Issues”

CALL FOR PROPOSALS

Implementation Research to Address Priority Immunization Issues

The Health Services Academy is soliciting proposals for research that seeks to enable the effective implementation of immunization programmes in Pakistan. Grants up to USD $20,000 will be available to support research studies of up to 6-9 months in duration.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

Implementers working with researchers are eligible to submit proposals in response to this call. The Principal Investigator must be an implementer—an individual directly involved in the implementation of immunization programmes in Pakistan). Programme managers, district health officers, practitioners, and front line health workers are typical examples of such individuals. Additionally, the research team must include at least one researcher affiliated with an academic or research institution based in Pakistan. Please note that both these conditions must be met for the proposal to be eligible for funding.

SELECTION CRITERIA

Letters of intent will be judged on the potential of the research to make a difference in the delivery of immunization programmes. Other criteria that will be taken into account include value for money, institutional capacity, as well as ensuring diversity in terms of issues addressed by the research.

DEADLINES

The deadline for the submission of the proposal of no more than 5000 words is 31 March 2017. The proposals will be opened on 31 March, 2017 at 11:00 in Workshop Hall of Health Services Academy, Islamabad.

HOW TO APPLY

All submissions must be made online at: http://www.ahpsrproposalsubmission.org.

THIS CALL

In spite of proven solutions and increased support at national and international levels there exists a staggering burden of avoidable child morbidity and mortality with unacceptably slow progress on improvements in health outcomes. Improved implementation within health systems of immunization programmes could prevent a significant proportion of the estimated 6.3 million under-five child deaths each year, largely in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa which account for 75% of these deaths.

Pakistan has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, and over 50 percent of deaths in post-neonatal children are attributable to pneumonia, diarrhoea, or meningitis- diseases that can be prevented through vaccination. To improve the delivery of vaccines to children, the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) was established in 1978 in the country. Immunization coverage, however, has been quite low since the program’s inception with the most recent population-based survey describing it at 54% throughout the country. Much has been written about the issues, challenges and constraints in this regard. However, there is a need for a fresh stocktaking, particularly understanding the health system wide barriers and bottlenecks that may have been blocking the progress.

Implementers of immunization programmes in Pakistan are the main target audience for this call. The practical orientation of the field of implementation research, and the kinds of questions it asks, makes it necessary for implementers to have a central role in the conceptualization, design and analysis of Implementation Research projects. While researchers are needed to provide their skills in research methods for the conduct of high quality studies, most often, it is the person working in the field, as opposed to the academic who asks the most important questions related to implementation.

To ensure that these questions are heard and the research undertaken is directed to answer them as opposed to topics that are of interest mainly to academic researchers, this call requires the Principal Investigator to be an implementer.  Potential research areas of specific interest for this call include:

Potential Research Areas

1.       Governance and financing of  immunization programme

  • Effectiveness of immunization oversight mechanisms and systems for monitoring and evaluation of immunization programme performance
  • Delay in disbursements of funding

2.      Polio-EPI synergy/integration

3.      Immunization Supply chain and performance management systems

4.       Human Resources and Service Delivery

  • Optimization of current human resource capacity (placement and function)
  • Optimal ways to ensure accountability, motivation and improving performance of human resources for immunization.

5.       Community and Individuals

  • Trust of community in vaccination services and what are the most effective communication channels/methods to achieve this.
  • Enhance knowledge creation to inform better implementation of existent programmes;
  • Strengthen the capacity of decision-makers (implementers) to use research as a means of addressing implementation problems that they face in the field.

Up to USD 20,000, depending on the scope and focus of the study as well as the study setting, will be available to support 10 studies. Additional funding from other sources should be sought if the budget is anticipated to exceed this amount. Through this call it is aimed to:

In line with these aims, selected teams will be provided active training by HSA expert facilitators organized in collaboration with the AHPSR and UNICEF to further develop their ideas using appropriate Implementation Research methods.

WHAT IS IMPLEMENTATION RESEARCH?

Despite abundant evidence on the efficacy of affordable, life-saving interventions, there is little understanding of how to deliver these interventions effectively in diverse settings and within the wide range of existing health systems. Research is needed to shine light on the often bumpy interface between what can be achieved in theory and what actually happens in practice. Implementation Research aims to do this, by understanding not only what is and isn’t working, but how and why implementation is going right or wrong, and testing approaches to improve it.

Implementation Research is a broad field that can address any aspect of implementation, including factors that influence implementation, the implementation process or implementation outcomes. It includes many types of studies using a wide range of approaches including qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods. Implementation Research’s main focus on finding actionable solutions to real problems faced by health systems requires it to pay special attention to context, since implementation issues often arise as a result of contextual factors that policy-makers and health system managers may not even have considered. In addition, Implementation Research involves a variety of stakeholders at each stage of the research process, including program managers, front line health workers and decision-makers who are at many times the source of the most important and pertinent questions. The emphasis on locally relevant research involving practitioners and grounded within the routine functioning of the health system enables Implementation Research to provide unique insights on why a particular intervention succeeds or not in achieving its goals in a specific setting.

For more information on Implementation Research, please refer to:

Implementation Research in Health: A Practical Guide

http://www.who.int/alliance-hpsr/resources/implementationresearchguide/en/.

PROPOSAL SUBMISSION DETAILS

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

Implementers, including practitioners and policy-makers working with researchers are eligible to submit proposals in response to this call subject to the following criteria:

  • The Principal Investigator must be an individual directly involved in the implementation of health interventions in Pakistan). Programme managers, district health officers, front line health workers are typical examples of such individuals.
  • Additionally, the research team must include at least one researcher affiliated with an academic or research institution based in the study country.

Please note that both these conditions must be met for the proposal to be eligible for funding.

Additionally the team should include individuals with:

  •  A variety of technical expertise (e.g. sociology, policy, epidemiology, management sciences) relevant to the proposed study.
  • A mix of roles and responsibilities within the country’s health system, i.e., policy-makers, implementers, front line health workers and program managers.

HOW TO APPLY

All submissions must be made online http://www.ahpsrproposalsubmission.org. Hard copies and emails of submissions will NOT be accepted. All submissions must be written in English.

  •  Applicants must submit the proposal by 31 March 2017. This is a firm deadline. Proposals received after the deadline will not be accepted or considered.
  • The proposals will be opened on 31 March, 2017 at 11:00 in Workshop Hall of Health Services Academy, Islamabad.
  • Full proposals of up to 5,000 words must address the specific content areas outlined in the Protocol Template and should:
  • Clearly state the problem or the barrier to successful implementation
  • Explain why overcoming this barrier is relevant to enabling the effective implementation of immunization programmes in Pakistan
  • Clearly spell out the proposed research including a brief description of proposed methods
  • Describe what the proposed research would achieve and how this achievement would be measured.
  • Provide details of the research team including position and qualifications of the Principal Investigator and research partner(s).
  • Provide a detailed budget for the project

All proposals will be assessed by an external committee of independent experts using the following criteria:

  •  Relevance of the proposed research to the present call: Research objectives and questions should relate to one of the four priority research areas. Knowledge generated through the proposed research should enable the effective implementation of immunization programs in Pakistan.
  •  Feasibility of approaches proposed. This includes: a) feasibility of methods proposed to address the research question within the intended time frame, and b) feasibility of research to produce results within the intended time frame that can be acted upon by the intended audiences.
  • Justification of methods and study design to address the primary research question.
  • Capacity of research team to implement the proposed study.
  • Appropriateness of budget and timing for proposed research activities and precision and clarity in budget proposal and justification.

Research teams should submit these proposals based on an understanding that accepted proposals will undergo refinement at the Protocol Development Workshop which will be conducted in Islamabad.

Based on these criteria, proposals will be selected for funding. Funding decisions will be communicated to applicants by 21 June 2017.

  • Selected teams (2 members per team) will be required to attend a Protocol Development Workshop on 9-12 May 2017 where expert facilitators will provide technical assistance on further refining the proposals.

TIMELINE

EVENT DATE
Research Call Launched 3 March 2017
Deadline for Full Proposal Submission 31 March 2017
Opening of Proposals 11:00 AM 31 March, 2017
Notification of Funding Decision 21 April 2017
Protocol Development Workshop 9-12 May 2017
Final protocols & start of studies June 2017

Click here to Download the ToRs

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