There has never been a better time to be engaged in strengthening research for health capacity. Health services in Kenya are now devolved. The National Research Fund is in place and is becoming operational. The Health Bill, which addresses research for health explicitly, will soon become law. There is much optimism that the demand for evidence for decision making in health will grow significantly, and that for the first time in Kenya’s history, taxpayer money will be directly available to answer research questions in priority health issues.
In a relatively short period of time, CNHR has successfully implemented its Health Research Capacity Strengthening Initiative. It has established four (4) Centers of Research Excellence (CoReS) as hubs for high quality, relevant, multidisciplinary research and training that have helped launch over 60 Kenyans (research interns, postgraduate and research leaders) onto research-rich career pathways.
CNHR has established and maintained strategic collaborations and partnerships with key stakeholders in public and private sectors as well as locally based international research institutions.
The strategy that CNHR has taken in Health Research Capacity Strengthening has had significant impact and should be pursued with vigour. The organization aims to remain at the forefront of research for health by maintaining its competitive advantage in the key areas of determinants of health, capacity building, health systems and policy. While acknowledging that donor priorities have shifted markedly, concerted effort should be made to ensure continued funder interest.
In response to these realities, in 2015 CNHR began a process of internal assessment and stakeholder engagement to establish a new strategy fully suited to the changing landscape.
I joined CNHR in September 2014, having been competitively recruited from the public sector. Within a few days I was already aware of the magnitude and complexity of the exercise. The task appeared daunting, but CNHR has 5 Council of Members (CoM) Meeting to be held at the CNHR Offices, Watermark Business Park, Karen, Nairobi on an eclectic mix of highly skilled secretariat members, and world-class governance structures.
In shaping this new strategy, I have learned about the strengths of CNHR and how stakeholders perceive it. I have understood its networks, and the opportunities it has to add value to the research for health landscape. I have received candid feedback from stakeholders who understand CNHR’s unique role and how to continue making a difference.
The plan we are presenting is ambitious. It seeks to continue transforming the research for health space. It is an amalgamation of ideas, insights and advice from the Board, the Council, The Secretariat, The Government and other key stakeholders. The strategy is a living document, and CNHR will continue to be alive to the need to revise the strategic objectives to accommodate changing evidence and circumstances whenever it becomes necessary to do so.
Regardless of the changes the strategy may undergo, CNHR will remain committed to strengthening research for health capacity.
We are grateful to our parent ministry, The Ministry of Health, CNHR members, funders, partners and other stakeholders for their various contributions in the developmental process of this Strategic Plan.
Prof. Matilu Mwau, DPhil (Oxon),
Director, Consortium for National Health Research (CNHR).