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AFRO-NETS> Small Grants Programme to Develop Health Policy and Systems Research

Small Grants Programme to Develop Health Policy and Systems Research

Call for Letters of Intent

Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research
Second Round 2001-2002 Deadline: 29 June 2001

Promoting Policy Research for Health Systems Development

In collaboration with the World Health Organization, an initiative 
fostered by the Global Forum for Health Research

Grants will aim to contribute to improved health by encouraging rele-
vant, valid, and sustainable research and its application to the 
health policy and management process.

Grants: Two types of grants will be awarded:

Young Researcher Grants
These grants aim to support the growth and potential of HPSR in the 
medium term by funding projects of young researchers working as part 
of a research team, or the projects of students who are doing Masters 
or Doctoral level dissertations in a relevant subject. Close co-
ordination will be sought between the academic and methodological 
support provided by the host academic programme or senior researchers 
and Alliance training and grant requirements.

Research to Evidence Grants
These grants aim to strengthen capacity for the application of HPSR 
to the policy process. Financial support will be provided to teams of 
experienced researchers and policy/decision-makers to undertake short 
research projects involving empirical study or analysis of existing 
data. Projects should take the form of an interaction between re-
searchers and policy/decision-makers which fosters the production of 
evidence for the policy process.

Besides financial support for research, the Alliance will organise 
training and development workshops for proposal development and writ-
ing up and communication of research results to influence the policy 

Research topics

The Alliance encourages submissions in a number of specific topic ar-
eas (see below), identified on the basis of partner priorities, 
emerging and widely acknowledged problems, Alliance consultations 
over the past year, and demand for funding as reflected in the re-
sponse to the first round call. However, letters of intent on any 
other HPSR topic will also be considered. Selection will be based on 
the scientific merit of the proposal, its justification with respect 
to country priorities, and the extent to which it contributes to a 
critical mass of research on particular topics. In addition, applica-
tions are particularly encouraged from low-income countries, with 
limited HPS research capacity but demonstrating researcher and policy 
maker commitment to building up capacity in HPSR.

Health policy and systems research is defined broadly as the produc-
tion of new knowledge and applications to improve how societies or-
ganise themselves to achieve health goals, including how they plan, 
manage and finance activities to improve health, as well as the 
roles, perspectives and interests of different actors in this effort. 
The health system functions of regulation, organisation, financing 
and delivery of services are the focal subjects of HPSR. Broader de-
terminants directly affecting the health system are also considered 
within the purview of HPSR. Outside the scope of HPSR would be re-
search focusing on environmental, political, cultural and economic 
determinants and processes that affect health indirectly.

Submissions on the following topics are especially encouraged:

A. Impact of social policies against poverty and exclusion, and con-
   sequences of globalisation

There are multiple direct and indirect linkages between globalisation 
and health requiring further research. The direct effects include im-
pacts on health systems and policies directly (e.g., the effects of 
the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services) and through interna-
tional markets (e.g., the effects of the WTO Agreement on Trade-
Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights); and direct effects 
on other influences on health at the population level (e.g., cross-
border transmission of infectious disease and the marketing of to-
bacco). The indirect pathway includes effects operating through the 
national economy and on population levels of health risks.

B. Innovative approaches to health financing for the poor

Health financing encompasses collecting money to fund health systems, 
pooling contributions from different sources to allow financial risks 
to be shared, and paying service providers. Effective health financ-
ing seeks to ensure that all individuals have affordable access to 
appropriate public health and personal health care services, to pay 
providers fairly for the services they deliver and to set the right 
financial incentives for service users and providers. 

C. National health accounts (NHA): country methodological develop-

NHA has been recognised as a strategic tool to monitor, evaluate and 
outline potential planning avenues in health systems. In most coun-
tries only first estimates are available, imposing the need to search 
for feasible ways to fulfil policy requirements. Research is required 
to establish if the NHA models being developed satisfy the four basic 
questions: who pays? for what? produced by whom? for whose benefits? 
There is also a need to identify the most cost-effective ways to ob-
tain reliable and sufficient data with the appropriate breakdown by 
region, socio-economic strata, disease, and provider. Other important 
issues include: use of existing data to simulate the effects of re-
structuring financing and delivery systems or re-allocating re-
sources; data projections to identify future resource needs; other 
health policy uses of NHA.

D. Research on human resource development

Staffing costs and wages represent usually about three quarters of 
recurrent health expenditure in most countries. Effective health ser-
vice delivery requires the efficient use of the skills of a well-
motivated health sector workforce. The health sector workforce is 
complex, with several health specific professional groups with dis-
tinct roles and their own educational and regulatory structures. Each 
professional group also has a specific culture, which sometimes is 
the main obstacle to bringing them to agree to changes, or work in a 
co-ordinated manner. Research will be considered that provides evi-
dence on the following issues: .

E. Scaling up malaria control and prevention: challenges for financ-
   ing and health system strengthening 

Populations exposed to malaria require rapid access to proven first 
line treatment and preventive interventions which may be delivered by 
non-traditional actors such as consumer good distribution networks. 
Public, voluntary and for-profit private sector stakeholders brought 
together through Country Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnerships have 
outlined plans for increasing their scale of operation. These plans 
aim to provide improved access to RBM interventions by 60% of at risk 
populations by 2006 in order to reduce the burden of disease of ma-
laria by 50% by 2010. Research providing guidance on how RBM action 
at country level can be enhanced is required in the following areas:

F. Research on road traffic injuries: policy development and imple-

Road traffic injuries represent the tenth leading cause of death 
world-wide and account for the largest fraction of the global burden 
of injuries. By the year 2020 it is expected that road traffic 
crashes will account for the third highest cause of the global burden 
of disease. The predicted sharp rise in road traffic crashes will oc-
cur predominantly in developing countries. Crucial risk factors such 
as driving under the influence of alcohol; speeding; under-utilising 
seat belts and child restraints; and poor road design and roadway en-
vironment are all avoidable phenomena. 

Who can apply

Young Researcher Grants
Applicants must be enrolled in a Masters or Doctorate programme and 
the proposed research project should be an integral part of the re-
quirements for graduation. The letter of intent can be submitted by 
an academic supervisor or by the junior researcher, in which case the 
supervisor should endorse the proposal. Only developing country na-
tionals normally residing in a developing country are eligible, al-
though they may be enrolled in an academic programme abroad.

Research to Evidence Grants
The individual applicant should have or be able to establish collabo-
ration with another institution or internal unit leading to the for-
mation of a team with at least one researcher and one policy / deci-
sion-maker. The supporting member(s) of the team should endorse the 
letter of intent. Applications will be accepted only from institu-
tions in developing countries, but teams including developed country 
institutions are eligible. 

Current Alliance grantees are not eligible to apply as principal in-

Project selection and technical support

Letters of intent will be selected by the Alliance on a competitive 
basis. In the first phase, up to 30 letters of intent are expected to 
be selected on the basis of relevance and technical merit. Applicants 
will then be invited to develop a preliminary proposal and present it 
at one of two protocol development workshops to be held in the week 
of September 17 and October 1st 2001. Participants will submit final 
proposals in English for the award phase within two weeks of the as-
signed workshop. In this phase, approximately 25 proposals will be 
selected for funding on the basis of their technical merit. After the 
preliminary research report is submitted, the principal investigator 
will be invited to a second training and development workshop to sup-
port write-up and the design of dissemination and application strate-
gies. Projects will be offered technical support during execution as 

Budget, duration and contractual arrangements 

Grants will be awarded for up to one year with a modest budget to 
support field work and office support. Young researcher grants have 
been supported in the past at an average of US$ 8,200 (US$ 13,000 
maximum) and Research to Evidence grants at an average of US$ 19,400 
(US$ 31,200 maximum). Grants will be awarded by the Alliance through 
a contract between the Global Forum for Health Research and the ap-
plicant's institution. Payment will be in one tranche at the begin-
ning of the contract.

How to apply

Letters of intent should be received by the Alliance not later than 
5PM GMT on 29 June, 2001. Awards will be announced by July 13. Let-
ters are preferred in English, but Spanish or French can also be 
used. Only electronic submissions will be accepted. Submission 
through the Alliance Web site is preferred, but letters are also ac-
cepted by E-mail. Use only one medium for submission. The Alliance 
will confirm reception of letters as they are received. 

The letters should contain the following information not to exceed 
2,000 words (excepting the CV as an annex):

General information

Type of grant requested (State which:) Young researcher or Research 
to evidence 

Priority area chosen (refer to one or more from the list below): 
* Impact of social policies against poverty and exclusion, and conse-
  quences of globalisation 
* Innovative approaches to health financing for the poor 
* National health accounts (NHA): country methodological developments 
* Research on human resource development 
* Scaling up malaria control and prevention: challenges to funding 
  and health system strengthening 
* Research on road traffic injuries: policy development and implemen-

Other (please specify). 

Project title 
Contact information of applicant 
Address (including zip code if available) 
Details of supporting institution/unit: 

For young researchers: 
name of academic institution 
name of Masters' or Doctoral programme 
name of supervisor/thesis director 

For Research to Evidence Grants: 
name of research institution 
name of policy partner's institution 
Is your institution a partner in the Alliance-HPSR? 
Research project information

Describe relationship of proposed project to HPSR priorities at coun-
try level. 

For Young Researcher Grants: specify the role of the research within 
the academic programme and for professional development. 

For research to evidence grants: state potential application of re-
search to national policies and the health system. 

Conceptual framework 
Data analysis plan 
Funding requested from the Alliance (state global budget only, in US 
Funding to be obtained from other sources 
Duration in months (projects should be completed in one year or less) 

Annex: Brief curriculum vitae of principal researcher only (not more 
than three pages).

Send letters by Web posting or E-mail only:

For queries please address correspondence to:

Miguel A. Gonzlez-Block, Manager
Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research
Office No. 3148
World Health Organization
CH 1211 Geneva 27 Switzerland
Tel: +41-22-791-2890/2840 
Fax: +41-22-791-4328

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