Irish Aid (managed in partnership with the Ireland Higher Education Authority) supported ChRAIC financially from 2007 to 2014 under their Programme of Strategic Cooperation between Irish Aid and Higher Education and Research Institutes 2007–2011.
KE conducted the PEER research in South Sudan and was a member of the ChRAIC Sudan country team. Involved in the writing of the paper. HT coordinator of ChRAIC in Sudan, involved in the knowledge synthesis in Sudan and member of ChRAIC Sudan steering committee. Involved in the writing of the six monthly donor reports and this research paper. DOD involved in the PEER research in Sudan, member of Sudan country steering committee and focal person for Sudan, and Involved in the writing of the paper. RB PI for overall ChRAIC project and involved in writing the paper. Involved in the design of the end of term evaluation of the ChRAIC project and participated in the evaluation. MH PI for ChRAIC Sudan, member of CHRAIC Sudan steering committee and involved in writing knowledge synthesis and six monthly donor reports for Sudan. AA member of ChRAIC Sudan steering committee and coordinated the knowledge synthesis report for Sudan. EB Research coordinator for ChRAIC, member of the Sudan country steering committee and focal person for Sudan. Conducted mid-term evaluation and coordinated and participated in end of term evaluation of ChRAIC. Involved in qualitative analysis of PEER research. Involved in the writing of the paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
There is a substantial body of literature on the principles of good partnerships and the rationale for such partnerships in research capacity strengthening. This paper illustrates the long term effects of a multi-country (8 countries) global partnership for health systems research capacity development (Connecting health Research in Africa and Ireland Consortium - ChRAIC) in relation to its contribution to capacity strengthening, public advocacy and policy influence at different levels and its practical achievements in Sudan in addressing access to maternal health services.
The authors (all members of the global partnership) reflect on the project in one of its’ partner countries, Sudan, over its’ five year duration. This reflection is supported by specific project data collected over the period of the project (2008–2014). The data collected included: (i) 6 monthly and annual donor reports; (ii) a mid-term internal and end of project independent evaluation of the entire project, and; (ii) a Ph.D study conducted by a member of the Sudanese research team.
The ChRAIC project in Sudan achieved the deliverables set out at the beginning of the project. These included a national knowledge synthesis report on Sudan’s health system; identification of country level health systems research priorities; research capacity assessment and skills training, and; the training and graduation of a Sudanese team member with a Ph.D. Mechanisms established in Sudan to facilitate these achievements included the adoption of culturally sensitive and locally specific research and capacity strengthening methods at district level; the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding at country level between the Ministry of Health, research and academic institutions in Sudan, and; the establishment of country level initiatives and a research unit. The latter being recognized globally through awards and membership in global health forums.
We surmise that the ‘network of action’ approach adopted to partnership formation facilitated the benefits gained, but that adopting such an approach is not sufficient. More local and contextual factors influenced the extent of the benefits and the sustainability of the network.