Minutes of the 5th Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Meeting

Strengthening Health, Applying Research Evidence (SHARE) project
Date: Sunday, 14 January, 2017
Venue: Chiller Building Conference Room, icddr,b

Agenda of the meeting:

1. Project progress to date
2. Achievements in 2017
3. Work plan for 2018
4. Recommendations

1. Project progress to date

1.1 Capacity Development
Healthcare capacity development through research policy communication in individual, organizational and national levels should be strengthened, covering both the supply and demand sides. To strengthen the demand side of this initiative, two recent trainings on Evidence-Based Health Policy Making and Health Policy and System Research were organized. These three-day residential trainings were facilitated in collaboration with the Planning and Research Division. 15 such trainings have been conducted so far, covering more than 300 participants, such as UHFPOs, Medical Officers, Deputy Civil Surgeons and future leaders in the health sector.

In addition, the project has sent two Bangladeshi students to University College London (UCL) for their individual capacity development, who have been enrolled in its Masters programme on Health Policy and Urban Health, alongside an existing PhD candidate, who will work with the project this year to develop a policy framework.

1.2 MIS
Since 2015, the SHARE project has been providing technical assistance to DGHS to digitize its health information system, MIS. These data have also been made online, so that they can be used at the peripheral levels. This will enhance the capacity of the managers working in the health sector, who will be able to analyze, use and evaluate this knowledge to monitor the performance of the system. The project also helped to clean, validate and operationalize the usage of data through a dashboard to make them easier and more accessible to researchers and managers.

The MIS system has been applauded by several national and international institutes and the United Nations (UN) has recognized Bangladesh and South Africa to the best performing countries in regards to MIS in health sector. Moreover, the project also helped DGDA to digitize its existing health information systems. Bangladesh was invited to participate in two international conferences to showcase this success and share knowledge with regional countries. The SHARE project has supported the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) in both the cases.

1.3 Systematic Review and Meta Analysis
In the previous year, the SHARE project has emphasized on District Health Information Software 2 (DHIS 2) and Systematic Review and Meta Analysis. It also helped establish a Systematic Review Centre in BSMMU and has trained several students in policy brief and data summarization. The project has recently become a member of GESI to raise funds for young scientists working in related fields.

1.4 Impact Group and RPCC
The project has also established an ‘Impact Group’ in icddr,b to review the summarized impacts of all the researches taking place in this organization. The idea to come up with such a group was conceived at the workshop on ‘Knowledge Translation for Impact’. To make this impact group diversified and efficient, two members from each of the five divisions of icddr,b were included in the team, along with other knowledge translation, communication and statistics experts. A Terms of References (TOR) has also been developed in this regard. The SHARE project also strengthened the Research Policy Communication Cell (RPCC) of DGHS, which in turn helped it become sustainable and get funding from the Government of Bangladesh.

1.5 Think Tank
The SHARE project has successfully established and implemented the Think Tank, a platform which will sensitize policy makers and wider stakeholders group through policy advocacy and analysis around urban health and NCDs issues. The project intends to hold one or two sessions of Think Tank annually, to go through important public health issues. This will assist and guide the Government of Bangladesh in doing so.

2. Achievements in 2017

2.1 Annual Investigators’ Meeting
To make sure that the researchers and the policy makers stay on the same platform, sharing common goals and objectives, the project’s work plan for the ongoing year was chalked out in the Annual Investigators’ Meeting, in collaboration with University College London (UCL).

2.2 Conceptual Framework
A conceptual framework for the SHARE project has been developed. Interventions and activities implemented by this project were mostly centered on urban health and NCDs, which are the project’s two focal points. It strived to engage in the capacity building of Evidence Informed Heath Policy Making-from generating evidence to advocacy.

2.3 Systematic Review
The project worked on identifying the existing gaps in the current healthcare system through ‘Knowledge Synthesis’. The Systematic Review Centre in BSMMU has assisted the project in doing so. Five training sessions on ‘Research Methodology’ for the faculties of BSMMU have been organized by the project. A systematic review on ‘Measures of Inequality’ has already been submitted and will be published soon. Preparation for the next review on ‘Hypertension’ is currently undergoing.

2.4 Trainings
In collaboration with the ‘Research and Planning’ wing of DGHS; BSMMU and IRDCR, the SHARE project facilitated seven divisional trainings in various locations throughout Bangladesh. More than 200 participants attended the trainings. To promote distance-learning in the health sector, the project helped DHIS 2 to develop and launch an e-learning course on related subject matters.

2.5 Sector Programmes
The activities and interventions of the SHARE project have been acknowledged by the ‘Sector Programmes’ of the Government of Bangladesh. As a result, the project is providing technical assistance and resources to the government according to the needs of those programmes. For implementation, some of the expenditures are currently being sanctioned by the government and the expenses which are difficult for them to bear, are being carried out by the project.

2.6 Collaboration with University College London (UCL)
The SHARE project joined forces with UCL to assess the current situation of NCDs in Bangladesh. This collaboration will also work to include ‘salt and sugar’ policy in the national health policies. The report is scheduled to be completed, published and shared by the end of this year. Moreover, a School Health Programme involving students from privileged and underprivileged schools from Bangladesh and UK, was initiated to determine and promote the knowledge of NCDs among them.

2.7 Journalist Orientation
In collaboration with the Press Institute of Bangladesh (PIB) and Journalist Health Forum, the SHARE project initiated an orientation session for journalists working on health issues in Bangladesh. This session helped the journalists to understand technical and complex health data and scientific articles and write and interpret them in easy-to-understand language for the mass population.

2.8 TV Talk Show on NCDs
SHARE Project reached another milestone of using mass media in bridging the gap between research evidence and health policy making, when the project organized its first health-based talk show, which was broadcasted on a national TV channel. Ways to prevent non-communicable diseases in Bangladesh and how this country’s health system should be reformed to do such, were discussed in details in the talk show.
2.9 Public Engagement Health Dialogue
In order to involve local communities in programme planning and execution, the SHARE project recently arranged a discussion on community participation in healthcare services. The event aimed to explore how best healthcare strategies can be suitable for and acceptable to the local community members. The discussion engaged the local crowd in a fruitful exchange of knowledge, information and ideas on issues related to community participation in healthcare services.

2.10 Café Scientifique
SHARE project facilitated two discussions in the spirit and format of Café Scientifique. The discussion, titled ‘Healthy Lifestyle to Prevent Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)’ in collaboration with the Department of Public Health and Informatics. The discussion sought to promote engaging dialogue and effective health communication between different stakeholder groups, researchers, health professionals and the general public. The project organized its second ‘Café Scientifique’ on ‘Breast Cancer Scenario: Prevention and Awareness’ in collaboration with the Bangladesh Breast Cancer Awareness Forum.
2.11 International Conference
To strengthen the e-health sector in Bangladesh, the SHARE project in collaboration with DGHS, facilitated an international conference on ‘Data for Decision Making in Health’. Team members from this project have successfully participated in similar conferences in Myanmar, South Africa and Sweden.

2.12 International Recognition
The SHARE project has become a member of the renowned Global Evidence Synthesis Initiative (GESI), under the group ‘Evidence Synthesis for Impact’. After its mid-term evaluation, the European Union (EU) has acknowledged the SHARE project to be the best performing project of its kind among all the eight countries it supported.

2.13 Publications
In 2017, SHARE team members have published eight publications in international peer-reviewed scientific journals and plan to continue this trend in the upcoming year as well.

3. Work plan for 2018

• The SHARE project will continue to work with SRC on evidence based research initiatives and will focus on ‘Hypertension’ in 2018. Policy briefs will be created accordingly and policy advocacy through Think Tank will also take place.
• The project also plans to work on ‘Knowledge Synthesis on Urban Health’ throughout the year.
• Preventing NCDs among urban poor and hard-to-reach population will also be prioritized.
• Through RPCC, the project will facilitate a dissemination session on ‘Salt Policy’.
• One more journalist orientation session will also take place this year.
• The project will continue facilitating Policy Dialogues through its Think Tank events, prioritizing maternal health and private sector.
• A ‘Mayors’ Conference’ is scheduled to take place later this year, bringing the departments of Local Government, Ward Commission and Civil Surgeon on the same platform.

4. Recommendations

• SHARE project should create a bigger impact outside icddr,b and should not just confine its interventions to this institute only.
• Impacts and outcomes of the manpower development by this project should be evaluated and documented through systematic and timely assessments.
• Both base-line and end-line reviews are needed to define multisectoral approach in capacity development.
• Long and short term impacts of trainings should be documented, both in individual and institutional levels.
• Data gathered through Meta Analysis should be reliable, accurate and consistent.
• The progress of the health professionals trained under the SHARE project during the last two years, should be duly tracked.
• Trainings should be made more diversified by avoiding conventional topics and bringing out the less discussed options such as childhood obesity, counseling and risk factors.
• An evaluation of the SHARE project should take place on its last working year. Its achievements, progress and lessons learned should be duly documented to help other similar projects working with public health issues in Bangladesh.
• Think Tank should be made accessible to more female participants.

1 Dr. TA Chowdhury BSMMU
2 Dr. Iqbal Anwar icddr,b
3 Dr. Abdul Quddus BIRDEM
4 Md. Ruhul Amin Talukder MoHFW
5 Dr. Malobika Sarker BRAC University
6 Dr.Farina Hasin BSMMU
7 Dr. Tanvir Ahmed Chowdhury DGHS
8 Dr. Shahed Hossain icddr,b
9 Dr. Sohana Shafique icddr,b
10 Razwana Afzal icddr,b
11 Razib Mamum icddr,b
12 Dr. Saif ur Rahman icddr,b
13 Dr. Tahmina icddr,b
14 Shafiul Adnan Khan icddr,b
15 Md. Hasan BSMMU
16 Badsha Muhammad Shekander icddr,b
17 Dr. Abul Kalam Azad DGHS