King’s Global Health Institute’s objective to set new standards in equitable partnership, includes a clear commitment to research capacity building and infrastructure development.
All of our research projects and programmes include an explicit capacity-building component, with a plan co-developed with research partners to meet their particular needs, which can then be monitored and evaluated for impact. Our experience to date is that country needs are best supported in country, with KCL academics working with our partners to extend and improve local research training and career development opportunities. At Addis Ababa University, for example, we have supported over the last five years the development of a successful Mental Health Doctoral Training Programme with 18 students; nine co-supervised by KGHI faculty who also assist with student selection, upgrading vivas, structured teaching, and mentorship. As part of these partnerships, students often benefit from study periods at KCL to attend courses, participate in our academic programme, and receive methodological support not available locally. Where suitable training opportunities do not exist in country, we are also able to register overseas students at KCL for ‘off-campus’ study, based on research in their own country, with KCL and local co-supervisors, and focused periods of study in London.
Our previous research capacity building assessments identified operational research, implementation science, and health service research/clinical trials methods as key needs, beyond basic qualitative and quantitative research methods. There is also a need for transferable skills training - non-academic skills needed to build a career in research; mentoring, presentation skills, using digital media, work-life balance, teamwork skills, grant writing, teaching techniques, and strategic career planning. We have co-developed and delivered short courses in these areas with our partners, but our aim now is to translate these into ‘flipped learning’ modules, linked to high quality materials, recorded lectures, teaching guides, and suggested exercises to test comprehension and ability to apply what has been learnt. Partner faculty can then be supported to deliver this core curriculum in their own universities. This approach will create a more sustainable and generalizable legacy, with greater impact and reach, strengthening and extending MSc and PhD programmes in our partner countries and beyond.
Several of our recent and ongoing programmes are specifically orientated to research capacity building, and provide examples of our work in this area.
Health partnerships are a model for improving health and health services based on ideas of co-development between actors and institutions from different countries. KGHI’s Health Partnerships, in Sierra Leone, Somaliland and Congo, focus on capacity building through health professional training, and the development of sustainable skills, organisational structures, resources and commitment to improving health, delivered by UK based faculty from KCL and other academic and NHS organisations, and KCL contracted overseas staff. The partnerships are long-term but not permanent, and are based on ideas of reciprocal learning and mutual benefits.