The Capacity Research Unit (CRU) at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) has been included in COUNTDOWN to facilitate effective research capacity strengthening activities within the consortium. CRU will initially focus on the research management systems of two key partners (in Ghana and Cameroon) to strengthen their capacity to conduct implementation research on NTDs. CRU has an established track record of designing, implementing and monitoring high quality research in health related capacity strengthening programmes.
CRU conducts baseline studies which identify current strengths and gaps within research institutions in participation with local partners. The tools used for the baseline studies revolve around the following themes: (1) Institutional Research Strategy, (2) Institutional Support Services, (3) Research Facilities, (4) Human Resource Management, (5) Training Activities for Research, and (6) External Promotion of Research.
Following the baseline studies, findings are used to develop institution-specific research capacity strengthening plans. These plans highlight research capacity strengthening priorities and activities to address the identified gaps. CRU continues to collaborate with the institutions to support and monitor capacity strengthening activities through online communication. This helps identifying factors that affect the research capacity strengthening progress, particularly those related to the COUNTDOWN programme. As the programme matures and priorities change and develop, plans will be adapted.