On the 8th of July 2014 The Global Health Network launched the Global Health Research Process Map, the first digital toolkit designed to enable researchers anywhere in the world to conduct rigorous global health research. It has the potential to revolutionise the current process, speeding new research and therapies to the patient and saving lives in the process. The event was a great success, with over 100 researchers, media and other interested people attending at the Wellcome Trust, Euston Road, London.
Videos from the event appear at the end of this article.
In a globally networked age, health and scientific research is drastically lacking in the regions where evidence to improve health is needed most and it is surprisingly disjointed and inefficient. Crucial evidence is not being generated because doctors and nurses lack research skills and support. Effort is also regularly duplicated or conducted using different criteria in different territories and studies, and sometimes it falls by the wayside from lack of simple resources and guidance on best practice. Researchers wanting to develop treatments of the future are hindered by the lack of access to a global network.
The Global Health Research Process Map is set to change all that. It’s an open-access internationally-available online resource that guides every process and method needed to initiate a health research study. For each step researchers and their staff are provided with the information, support and training that they need to successfully run a health study. Researchers will also gain the opportunity to engage with their peers along the way, aiding collaboration and the spread of ideas. The sharing of research methods allows researchers to learn from the experiences of previous studies and saves time and raises standards - this is possible because many steps and processes are similar, regardless of the design or disease area.
The Global Health Research Process Map is the product of four years of best practice gathered and refined by the research community who use the pioneering Global Health Network to guide and support their effort to conduct research in challenging settings.
The launch coincided with an article in Nature Medicine (20, 694 (2014)) entitled "Website pools clinical trial forms for use in developing countries", published on the 7th of July 2014. Dr Trudie Lang also published on the Huffington Post, in "Harnessing the Digital Sharing Revolution to Save Lives". News of the launch was also picked up by the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2014;349:g4498) in a note titled "Digital map for global health researchers". A blog was also posted to The Lancet, "A 21st century upgrade for global health" by Gemma Bowsher, Nathan Post and Emelia Martin of Medsin-UK.
The Global Health Network launched the tool as part of an expert discussion on the theme of ‘harnessing the digital sharing revolution to drive global health research’, and videos from the speakers, as well as the Questions and Answers (Q & A) on the day are available below.
Launch Event Videos:
Dr Trudie Lang, Director of The Global Health Network - Introduction and Overview of The Global Health Research Process Map, Introduction of the panel
Dr Egeruan Babatunde Imoukhuede – Jenner Institute, University of Oxford - Realities of conducting Research in African Countries
Ken Awundo - Laboratory Manager at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust, Kilifi Kenya - The challenges of setting up research laboratories in Africa and the impact of The Global Health Network
Roger Gorman, CEO, ProFinda.com - a digital platform perspective on sharing and breaking down silos. He discusses 7 themes, or 'digi-trends'
Dr Abha Saxena – Coordinator, Global Health Ethics, World Health Organization - Why research in low- and middle-income countries and what the WHO is doing to address the challenges to get more and better research done
Dr Ben Goldacre, doctor, academic, campaigner and writer - How we can embed research activity as seemlessly and unobtrusively as possible into everyday clinical activity
The launch also included a Questions and Answers session, wherein firstly Professor Rosanna Peeling, the Chair, asked questions of the panel:
- Scientists do not share, as they are set up to be competitive for shrinking funding. How do you resolve the conflict between competition and sharing?
- If we do share, and we encourage more people to take on research, why should people in low income settings take up health research?
- Why now for the process map? Is it something we could not do before?
- Trudie, what can we all do tomorrow to make this work?
And was wrapped up with questions from the floor, and a thanks and closure by Dr Trudie Lang:
Questions from the floor:
- How do you engage with the people who need these tools? The role of recognition.
- How are you engaging with the hard to reach regions in low- and middle-income countries, rather than just the resourced organisations. How does South-South partnership and mentorship get incorporated - how have southern partners played a role in developing the tools?
- One of the barriers to embedding research in everyday clinical practise is the ethics of this. How do we overcome this as it is a danger to see ethics as a barrier rather than as a protection?
- There are many nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) that are working in difficult and hard to reach areas where it is difficult to even get qualified staff. How can this platform support the NGOs and the staff who work for them but have limited skills and knowledge to further generate and disseminate evidence?
- What is the role of youth in The Global Health Network, and how can they get more involved in Global Health?
- Is there a quality control process to the process map?
- How do we attract young people into research, who will be the future "customers" of this tool? What can we go around the world and use to sell to young people so that they can come and join us on this crusade?
- Some people go through years of training to become researchers, and you have come up with a tool where you say to research naive workers that all you have to do is go through this process map and you can do research. How do you balance these two 'types' of research worker?
Thanks to everyone who took part, everyone who attended and to all the users on The Global Health Network that contribute so much of their time, energy and resources to the success of these tools.