At the end of 2015, DFID approved the continued inclusion of Liberia within the COUNTDOWN consortium following successful control of the Ebola epidemic. The COUNTDOWN ‘family’ were elated with this confirmation from DFID, emphasising team Liberia’s integral importance within the COUNTDOWN consortium. Given the critical focus on implementation research for COUNTDOWN and the Liberian Ministry of Health (MoH), as plans for the inception year got underway in Liberia, it was clear to the MoH that they needed to engage with a national research partner.
The MoH underwent a transparent and systematic approach to selecting a research partner that would be able to support implementation research for COUNTDOWN in Liberia. Initially, the MoH identified the core competencies that the research partner must have. These were: strengths in COUNTDOWNs core research areas (social science, health economics and evidence synthesis); good financial management capacity; and infrastructure able to support additional staff. Once core competencies had been identified, the MoH identified five possible research partners. Based on their alignment to the above criteria, these five partners were reduced to three by a team at the MoH. Members of the MoH then made site visits to each of the three remaining research partners to understand more about their work and explore synergies with the COUNTDOWN programme. Following these site visits, with the support of the LSTM programme management team, the MoH identified the most suitable implementation research partner for COUNTDOWN Liberia.
Following this detailed selection process, COUNTDOWN are delighted to introduce the University of Liberia-Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (UL-PIRE) as our newest implementation research partner. Fred Sosu, Research Coordinator from UL-PIRE was able to attend our recent partners annual review meeting and it was a great pleasure for all involved in the consortium to understand more about UL-PIREs work and explore in detail their involvement in the partnership. UL-PIRE has a wealth of experience in the delivery of health systems research projects as well as those that span other disciplines such as agriculture, water, sanitation and education. Project evaluation, survey development and administration are core competence strength. With a strong focus on ethics and community engagement they provide unique and innovative perspectives from the Liberian context.
As the inception year continues within Liberia, the Liberian MoH and all other COUNTDOWN partners are very much looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership with UL-PIRE.