GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) established its Africa Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Open Lab Programme in 2014 as part of a series of strategic investments in sub-Saharan Africa. The Open Lab Programme focuses on increasing the understanding of NCDs in Africa, including examining the variations of some NCDs that are seen on the continent.
Between October 2015 to May 2016 CRU provided academic support to GSK to assess the capacity of key institutions in Africa to undertake high quality research into NCDs. CRU conducted the first stage of the capacity assessment via an online survey developed to build a picture of the research capacity of institutions in sub-Saharan Africa with potential or existing expertise to undertake research in NCDs. The second stage of the assessment involved site visits to two institutions to gain a more in-depth understanding of the institutional research capability and the laboratory capacity to conduct NCD research. These assessments provided an insight into key gaps where NCD research capacity could be enhanced.
How CRU worked with GSK and the selected research institutions:
- The CRU has a well-established and tested model for planning, implementing and evaluating capacity strengthening (CS) initiatives, which focuses on individuals and institutions simultaneously, so our approach to this project was to follow our 5-step pathway.
- A combination of adapting existing tools from CRU, consultation with laboratory specialists, reviews of the grey literature for NCD research and adapting detailed international literature reviews conducted by CRU allowed a list of indicators to be generated that summarised the components of an ‘optimal’ research system for an institution to effectively conduct research into NCDs.
- The CRU team met with a range of stakeholders at the institutions during site visits and key findings were presented and discussed during feedback sessions, providing an opportunity for any discrepancies or inaccuracies and potential actions to be discussed.
- Through their Open Lab programme the GSK team will now identify how they can best target their knowledge and skills to enhance NCD research in Africa