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African Regional Capacity Development for Health Systems and Services Research

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Towards better African healthcare

A network of African and European universities is working to provide training in health systems and services research (HSSR) to African postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers.


African health services remain woefully under-funded and under-capacity, despite the magnitude of Africa's health problems. Strengthening these services requires long-term investment into training and research at institutions across sub-Saharan Africa. An EU-funded collaboration involving universities in Africa and Europe, the ARCADE HSSR (African regional capacity development for health systems and services research) initiative provided training to a new generation of researchers in African HSSR. The project team started by completing a needs assessment for HSSR training at four universities around southern Africa. They then created and delivered 17 courses covering key areas and issues, aimed at researchers in Africa. Each of these courses was delivered at one or more of the participating African universities. Using innovative approaches and educational technologies, ARCADE HSSR's training covered quantitative, qualitative and combined methods of research. Targeting doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows, the courses involved both face-to-face and online education, and reached more than 300 researchers. ARCADE HSSR also created an eBook on how to implement health research, and created a massive open online course that teaches participants how to effectively run controlled trials. Another aspect of ARCADE HSSR promoted joint research programmes at African and EU partner universities. This had the added effect of engaging grant offices at each university, improving best practices at each institution. The project has boosted African HSSR capacity, with long-term implications for the health systems and policies of the countries involved. The major output, though, will be greater numbers of PhD graduates and postdoctoral fellows, who will contribute to improved HSSR in the region.


African, health systems and services research, researchers, health services

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