IANPHI, CDC, and Côte d’Ivoire conduct first virtual Staged Development Tool workshop

On September 16, 2020 Côte d’Ivoire’s Institut National de Santé Publique (INSP) took part in a virtual workshop using the Staged Development Tool (SDT). SDT workshops are usually facilitated in person, but because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, the event was held virtually for the first time. Participants included INSP staff in Abidjan and Bouaké and a team of facilitators from IANPHI and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) in Atlanta, GA. 

Developed by IANPHI and U.S. CDC, the SDT helps national public health institutes (NPHIs) assess their current capacity, identify gaps in functionality, and develop a roadmap to achieve a higher level of functioning. 

Created in 1969, INSP is focused on public health research and workforce development. After suffering disruptions during the 2010-2011 post-electoral crisis, the institute has been working to revitalize its activities. 

Nine members of INSP’s management team, including Prof. Dinard Koussi, director of INSP; Prof. Yavo William, deputy director for research; leaders of several research groups within the INSP; and members of the scientific council had an in-depth discussion on their research activities. 

“During the post-electoral crisis, a number of health structures, including INSP, were the target of looting,” explained Prof. Yavo. “Government support through the Presidential Emergency Program and support from partners made it possible to gradually restore technical facilities, strengthen the supply of inputs and equipment to health centers, and resume public health activities throughout the country.” He added that “INSP’s public health research and training activities are now fully carried out on three of its sites (Abidjan, Bouaké and Daloa), while the Bouaflé site, dedicated to community health training, is still awaiting rehabilitation.”

The first part of the workshop was facilitated using the SDT discussion guide for research, one of 28 discussion guides, each of which covers a different aspect of functions critical to an NPHI. The guides provide descriptions of what an NPHI’s resources and capacities might be like in developmental stages ranging from basic to leading edge. 

The research discussion guide helped participants clarify INSP’s current development stage, desired stage, and gaps that need to be addressed to reach the desired state. The INSP team talked about research priorities, systems and protocols, resources, quality and impact of research work and efforts to engage with stakeholders.

The second part of the workshop focused on identifying priority areas for improvement and next steps. For example, participants discussed updating their 2015-2019 strategic plan and creating a new five-year plan. It was noted that some of INSP’s research groups operate at a more advanced stage than others. The team discussed ways to move forward as one institute, with all groups achieving advanced stages of development. Among other ideas discussed were mentoring junior researchers and training senior researchers how to become better mentors and research leaders. 

Participants also considered several ideas to improve the visibility of their institute. They acknowledged the benefits of having researchers with the ability to publish research results and pursue funding opportunities in English, as well as the importance of peer-reviewed publications to improve the impact of their research work nationally, regionally and internationally.

Near the end of the workshop, participants were able to develop a list of priorities to address in order to build INSP’s research capacity and increase its impact for the year to come. According to Prof. Yavo, the workshop was “a fruitful sharing of experience” for his team. “It enabled INSP to better identify the gaps and the priorities to be addressed for the development of research”, he added.

INSP plans to operationalize the list of priorities in collaboration with the relevant stakeholders and partners. Prof. Yavo is hoping that “the implementation, monitoring and assessment of priority actions will enable INSP to become an international center of excellence in public health research over the next three years.”

To date, the SDT has been used in 16 countries on four continents. For more information on the tool visit the SDT page. If you are interested in organizing an SDT workshop for your institute, contact IANPHI at info@ianphi.org or contact the U.S. CDC's NPHI Program at nphisdt@cdc.gov.

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