Team for Applied Research Generating Effective Tools and Strategies for Communicable Disease Control
The TARGETS research programme builds on a wide network of stakeholders involved with communicable disease control. We work with individuals and their communities; with government services and programmes as well as private clinics and community organisations, and with bilateral and multilateral development and technical agencies. This gives us great insight into the challenges of disease control and its relationships with wider development issues. Through these partnerships we address questions raised by those closest to the problems.
In India, MAAS-CHRD has been accepted as a partner in The NGO Tuberculosis Consortium, working closely with the Revised National TB Control Programme and the World Health Organisation (WHO) India TB office. Other partnerships and collaborations have recently been developed, with the National AIDS Research Institute and LEPRA Society - Health in Action for example. The purpose of extending these networks is to develop and strengthen the capacity of NGOs and programme managers to conduct quality operations research and thereby generate evidence to influence programme and policy. Furthermore, this strategy helped MAAS-CHRD to move beyond its base area in Maharashtra to other States in India such as Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Tamil Nadu.
Meeting stakeholders' needs
Many research projects undertaken by TARGETS members are carried out at the specific request of key stakeholders. The Division of Malaria Control in Kenya and the National Malaria Control programme in Mali have been involved in shaping the research questions on access to interventions for malaria in pregnancy. Malaria Control Programme Managers from several countries were also present at the final IPTi Consortium Annual General Meeting in Geneva in January 2009, where the IPTi webtool was presented, and feedback was received regarding their needs for implementation of an IPTi policy.
Involving potential users
Over half the studies being conducted as part of the TARGETS programme involve potential users in their planning and implementation. In Zambia, the ZAMSTAR study on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of new strategies to reduce the prevalence of TB at community level was developed through consultations within the Zambian and South African National TB Programmes. The Ministry of Health , district health authorities and national reference laboratory were involved in the design of the study and are involved in its implementation, whilst the research teams are embedded in the district health teams and health clinics.
Influencing policy on a national and international scale
TARGETS Consortium researchers themselves form a vast network of influence through membership or contributions to international policy bodies. These include the IPTi Consortium; the Technical Review Panel of the Global Fund; the TB/HIV core group of the Stop TB partnership; the WHO TB/HIV working group; the WHO technical advisory group on pesticide evaluation; the WHO technical expert group on ITNs; WHO-WPRO and WHO-SEARO planning group on regional risk mapping and disease burden estimation.
TARGETS partners are also embedded in processes of knowledge sharing and decision making at national level, such as the Treated Net Voucher Scheme stakeholder group in Tanzania (ITN strategy) and the ITN Strategy Task Force in Kenya. In Zambia, ZAMBART is a member of the National AIDS Council, the Treatment and Care Working Group, the TB/HIV Coordinating Body, the Committee on National TB Prevalence Survey and the District AIDS Task Forces (DATFs) in 5 provinces.
ZAMSTAR study sites, Zambia
These maps show three of the communities in which the ZAMSTAR study intervenes. The coloured polygons use google earth software to map the standard enumeration areas of the census, allowing researchers to randomly choose areas to sample and allowing field teams to accurately define which houses fall within which area.