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After sharing how we do research, build teams, transfer know-how and build research careers and systems, what next?

By guest contributors Professor Trudie Lang, Professor Pontiano Kaleebu, Julia Duray, Danny Everett, Bonny Baker, Zainab Al-Rawni, Shan Gray

On 24 – 25 November 2022 The Global Health Network convened its first conference at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Global health researchers, clinicians, practitioners, donors, and policymakers from across the world attended. This was an unusual conference because the focus was on how to do research, from setting up effective networks to solving challenges in undertaking research – all about trying to build research systems within health systems. The theme was Enabling Health Research in Every Healthcare Setting and 10 Years of addressing inequity in where research happens, leads and who benefits.

We received almost 900 abstract submissions for the conference, giving us a tremendous position from which to select the talks and posters. This resulted in all eight sessions featuring panelists from across the globe, covering highly varied disease areas and different types of research with a strong gender balance.

The conference was preceded by a Symposia Day, featuring six exciting symposia across a wide variety of research themes and organised alongside key partners from around the world. Delegates participated in specialised presentations, in-depth Q+As and discussions, practice-driven breakout sessions, and smaller-scale networking opportunities. 

Image credit

Katherine Rainers/ The Global Health Network

During the three days of symposia and conference proceedings, delegates formed working groups, shared research methods, discussed findings, and built what we hope to become long-lasting partnerships, all with the goal of improving health equity and research capacity across the globe. 

This conference also celebrated the launch of The Global Health Network Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. This is a new decentralised franchise structure that provides a truly federated partnership of hubs across the world that now comprise The Global Health Network community. We also announced the designation of The Global Health Network as a WHO collaborating centre, working with the Research for Health team to help support research in every healthcare setting.

The Global Health Network aims to enable research in every healthcare setting – driving equity in where research happens, who leads and who benefits. This happens through an interconnected network of regional centres and through the digital platform that hosts diverse global communities of practice, free online training, events, tools and resources. This is how we connect excellence, transfer knowledge, build capacity and foster exchanges in health research between and across diseases, regions and organisations.

Image credit

Katherine Rainers/ The Global Health Network

So why did researchers attend the conference?

We spoke to Dr Fernando Rubenstein from Argentina and Dr Noshin Farzana from Bangladesh.

Dr Fernando Rubenstein Director of Education at the Institute of Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy, and Director of Education, the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Why are you in Cape Town?

“I’m participating in a new project funded by Wellcome, which is a network in Latin America and the Caribbean strengthening research. Our Institution is one of those participating and I’m at this conference to present some of our work and to hear about others’ work.”

Why is the conference’s theme – Enabling Health Research in Every Healthcare Setting – important?

“Mainly because that’s part of what we do, strengthening research capacity. In Latin America, resource capacity has not been developed enough and not received enough support so strengthening the research capacity of people and groups in Latin America for regional projects is something we’re particularly interested in.”

What do you hope to get out of the conference?

“First of all, to learn more about research capacity and the work of The Global Health Network in other parts of the world, especially Africa and Asia. I want to learn how to set up our network in Latin America and to learn more about other institutions’ work in research in other countries in our new network.”

Noshin Farzana, Research Investigator, icddr,b, Bangladesh

Why are you in Cape Town?

“I’m here to network with people from all over the world, to hear what researchers are doing in different regions, and to present some of my work.”

Why do you think the theme of the conference is important?

“It’s tremendously important because if we want to create balance in the research world between the Global South and Global North then we need to make everyone equal.”

“It’s a good place, everyone can meet each other and share their experiences, meet collaborators and learn from each other – and this will reduce the gap between the Global North and the Global South.”

What do you hope to get out of the conference?

“I’m looking to develop some collaborative networks from different regions, as well as setting up more connections between our regions, particularly in Asia, and I want to find some people with common interests. And also, to have some fun with friends from different corners of the world!”

Image credit

Katherine Rainers/ The Global Health Network

What Next?

The outputs from Cape Town were impressive and wide-reaching, covering every step in the research cycle – we want to ensure the recommendations and conclusions reach as many researchers as possible. Therefore, all the sessions have been captured on video and shared for free so that others can benefit from the recommendations provided and take them into their research practice.

Delegates and presenters are now busy writing up their contributions so we can capture all their findings and the knowledge they shared about how they approach design, operation, analysis and evidence uptake in their research methods.

Our aim is to provide the answer to how quality health research be embedded in every healthcare setting, across all regions, income-levels and settings.

In the meantime, you can watch the conference recordings, access speaker slides, view the photo gallery and get a recap of the daily conference proceedings. This is an inspirational collection of presentations on research knowledge, methods and recommendations from colleagues across the world to help enable health research in every healthcare setting.

Visit: The Global Health Network Conference 2022

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