Improving Community Health Outcomes through Research, Dialogue and System Strengthening
As neglected tropical disease (NTD) programmes move towards 2030, the role of applied research embedded within programs is becoming increasingly important to achieve NTD control and elimination goals. These types of research cut across the social and behavioral sciences, ranging from anthropology to applied epidemiology to health economics. Many of the persistent questions in the NTD community have been answered through social and behavioural research, but the findings are not necessarily available, accessible, or packaged to provide evidence needed for policy or programmatic change.
In November 2019, in conjunction with the annual COR-NTD meeting, the inaugural community of practice workshop was held to organize social and behavioral scientists working on NTDs. Feedback from the inaugural workshop included a strong desire to set up a group that would allow sharing and collaboration across researchers as well as the provision of relevant policy-related information and findings for use by program managers and their teams. Following on this meeting, a new community of practice, named iCHORDS (Improving Community Health Outcomes through Research, Dialogue, and Systems Strengthening) was developed. The vision of iCHORDS is to harness the expertise and experience within the social and behavioral science community to support NTD programming and research initiatives more effectively. The specific aims are: 1) To collate and disseminate generated across research and programmatic partners for use by NTD programs, 2) To be responsive to challenges and research needs brought by NTD programs, which can be addressed through social and behavioural science, 3) To provide a forum for collaboration and coordination amongst those engaged in implementation / programmatic research, 4) To support the mentorship of young researchers, and 5) To collaborate with other actors and networks within NTDs and the social and behavioural sciences. Task teams have been created to target priority issues including: disability management and inclusion, mentorship of endemic country social science researchers, increasing financial independence of country programs through systems strengthening, evaluation of MDA restart in the COVID-19 context, and others. COR-NTD is an active participant and supporter of the iCHORDS initiative.
To learn more about ICHORDS and to join the community of practice, visit ichords.org.