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A collaborative endeavour: Strengthening institutional health systems research capacity for 7 Schools of Public Health in East and Central Africa

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 Both policy-makers and academics recognize that several factors contribute to how decisions are made and what policies and practices come to bear. Of those, health systems research (HSR) has been acknowledged as a critical input in the decision making process and ultimately in improving the performance of health systems. However, in many contexts, the existing capacity for HSR has never been systematically documented. In order to address this gap, seven schools of Public Health and selected health policy institutions across six countries in East and Central Africa embarked on a five-year project to strengthen their capacity to undertake high quality, policy relevant HSR. Identification of HSR capacity strengths, gaps and needs served as priority for this endeavor. This series therefore draws on the experiences and results of HSR capacity assessments conducted at Jimma University (Ethiopia), Kinshasa University (DR Congo), Makerere University (Uganda), Moi University (Kenya), Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Tanzania), Nairobi University (Kenya) and National University of Rwanda. Although several areas for capacity strengthening emerged from the assessments, the articles in this series provide insights into existing capacities and offer proposals for capacity strengthening in the following areas: a) Design and implementation of teaching programs for HSR, b) Strengthening human and financial resources, and c) Knowledge translation and effective communication. More broadly, we consolidate the experiences across all seven Schools to provide guidance on the process of institutional capacity assessments for HSR in similar contexts. Undertaken by the Africa Hub ( under Higher Education Alliance for Leadership Through Health (HEALTH), and funded by Department for International Development (DFID), UK under the auspices of Future Health Systems (, the articles in this series were independently prepared by the authors, and have been subjected to the standard peer review process of this journal. The authors express no competing interests and the view expressed in the articles are a sole responsibility of the authors.

  1. Despite its importance in providing evidence for health-related policy and decision-making, an insufficient amount of health systems research (HSR) is conducted in low-income countries (LICs). Schools of publi...

    Authors: Daudi Simba, Aggrey Mukose and William Bazeyo
    Citation: Health Research Policy and Systems 2014 12:23
  2. The role of health systems research (HSR) in informing and guiding national programs and policies has been increasingly recognized. Yet, many universities in sub-Saharan African countries have relatively limit...

    Authors: Mabel N Nangami, Lawrence Rugema, Bosena Tebeje and Aggrey Mukose
    Citation: Health Research Policy and Systems 2014 12:22
  3. Despite significant investments in health systems research (HSR) capacity development, there is a dearth of information regarding how to assess HSR capacity. An alliance of schools of public health (SPHs) in E...

    Authors: Nasreen Jessani, Daniela Lewy, Elizabeth Ekirapa-Kiracho and Sara Bennett
    Citation: Health Research Policy and Systems 2014 12:21
  4. Local health systems research (HSR) provides policymakers and practitioners with contextual, evidence-based solutions to health problems. However, producers and users of HSR rarely understand the complexities ...

    Authors: Richard Ayah, Nasreen Jessani and Eric M Mafuta
    Citation: Health Research Policy and Systems 2014 12:20