Research capacity strengthening in the South

Soc Sci Med. 2002 Jun;54(11):1699-711. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(01)00338-0.


Active promotion of evidence-based decision-making at all levels of the health field is a necessary step in the direction of improving the health of the population. Recent studies have shown that the burden of disease in developing countries is high particularly the burden of infectious, communicable and non-communicable diseases and health problems of mothers and children. There is presently, a mismatch between this increased disease and health burden and the technical and human capacity of developing countries to use existing knowledge and to generate new knowledge to combat these diseases and health problems. It is therefore necessary to assist developing countries to build indigenous research capability so they can undertake studies in their own national settings the results of which will lead to the development of appropriate control strategies in their countries. Building indigenous research capacity will enable developing country scientists to translate results of studies carried out elsewhere into their individual national settings. Eventually results of such studies will increase the global knowledge base about the particular health problems and contribute to finding appropriate solutions to them. The research will, finally, increase knowledge-based decision-making by their health leadership of the country. This paper has set out to describe some experiences in capacity strengthening over the last few decades and to propose from these, mechanisms for building these capacities in a sustainable manner. This paper has described the steps in capability strengthening with special emphasis on identification of trainees, their training and deployment on return. The paper has described mechanisms of research sustainability including creation of suitable career structures, remuneration of researchers and the importance of building up suitable infrastructure for research to meet increasing demands and competence. The place of partnerships South-South, South-North and networking has been stressed. Finally, the paper calls for greater involvement by policy makers in developing countries in the entire capacity building process. They should set highly focussed research priorities, identify competence not already existing and proceed to fill these gaps along the lines described.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making, Organizational
  • Developing Countries*
  • Education, Graduate
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Public Health Administration*
  • Research Personnel / education
  • Research Support as Topic / organization & administration*
  • Social Control Policies
  • Staff Development*