Health Evaluation and Applied Research Development (HEARD) is a USAID-funded project that brings the implementation and technical capacity of 33 global partners together to improve policy development and program implementation in maternal and child health and related USAID global health priority areas by ensuring that evidence is relevant and accessible. The project runs from 2016-2021.
HEARD is part of a series of projects supporting USAID’s Health Research Program. To learn more about the whole portfolio, visit the Health Research Program website.
A major outcome of the HEARD Project will support the development of a global health Implementation Science Collaborative (ISC) to address three major challenges:
- The disconnect between research conducted, data use, and service delivery improvement
- The lack of focus on understanding program implementation (design, processes, impact) which makes it difficult to inform program improvement and policy processes and apply evidence across different contexts; and
- The lack of understanding and prioritization of how research can be translated into practice and policy and its potential to develop and refine interventions and technologies that benefit communities worldwide
The HEARD Project is comprised of organizations that work to advance global health goals such as implementation support organizations, regional health governance bodies, policy advocacy groups, civil society based evidence advocates, research organizations and academic institutions. This strategic mix of partners will help to inform which research questions are prioritized in different contexts; to generate and analyze evidence; and to better package and move evidence through channels making it more accessible to inform policy and practice.
The four main strategies of the Project are:
1) Partnership and Agenda Development
By engaging the right mix of partners at the right time, we can determine the most relevant priorities and questions while minimizing the “stalling” of evidence in the research-to-use pathway
2) Data Liberation and Evidence Strengthening
What do we already know? What is already available? Is it of good quality? By increasing access to and public use of data, we liberate it. Data includes non-published documents (e.g., gray literature). Evidence strengthening refers to the vetting of data to make sure it’s high enough quality so we can make decisions. The generation of more relevant evidence results in a more inclusive agenda setting process.
3) Research and Evaluation Study Design and Implementation
If there is a gap in existing data, we support new research studies or evaluations (e.g., systematic review of literature that would inform a new implementation research study). It’s possible to do both data liberation and research and evaluation studies.
4) Acceleration of Evidence-to-Use Processes
The three strategies above (orange boxes) combined with appropriate stakeholder engagement will set us up for more potential to accelerate evidence use. Evidence-to-use acceleration is also facilitated by creating useful products (beyond publications), engaging useful platforms, and linking to communities of practice and others to package and share findings. Eventually this will inform new sets of better questions that feed back into the process, which will hopefully influence prevention of death and disability.
Emphasizing effective stakeholder engagement and knowledge management throughout will lead to more relevant questions, which leads to more effective and efficient evidence generation and liberation with less delay in evidence uptake.
The Project will seek to:
- Effectively respond to evaluation and research-to-use global health priorities: developing study designs and issue-specific partnerships required to navigate a complex effort along a strategic research-to-use pathway;
- Actively engage national, regional, and global-level stakeholders for the development of those priorities: engaging and supporting a growing community of interested implementers, policy makers, and investigators in shaping and promoting a more relevant research-to-use agenda and capacity; and
- Strengthen and connect the institutional applied research capacities required to sustain a vigorous implementation science agenda in support of global health goals, emerging threats and new opportunities.