Meeting of health center staff in Guinea in support of health service delivery improvements. Photo credit: URC

Health Evaluation and Applied Research Development (HEARD)

The Challenge

Implementation of lifesaving health care practices, policies, and strategies benefit from evidence and data that can inform real-time improvement. There is often a disconnect between evidence producers, such as research and academic institutions, and the community of evidence users, such as policymakers and program implementers. Alignment of priorities and more strategic engagement of these actors can facilitate the use of more relevant and responsive evidence for decision-making to improve implementation of health programs.

Overview and Objectives

The Health Evaluation and Applied Research Development (HEARD) Project is a flexible global implementation science (IS) partnership mechanism that responds to emerging USAID health and development priorities.

The project leverages learning collaborations, where a diverse range of stakeholders share learning related to a specific health area and jointly generate evidence and accelerate the use of that evidence to improve policy and program implementation globally.

The Implementation Science Approach

HEARD lays the foundation for a global Implementation Science Collaborative – a network of learning networks – covering a range of priority areas in health. HEARD’s topic-specific learning collaborations focus on urban health, respectful maternal care, post-partum hemorrhage, social accountability, violence against children/child safeguarding, mental health and psychosocial support, and assistive technologies for those with mobility impairments.

The project’s core strategies involve:

  1. Developing priorities that are relevant across different groups of health stakeholders through their engagement in learning collaborations and consultations;
  2. Data liberation and evidence strengthening to better leverage existing evidence and data;  
  3. Evidence generation through new research studies and evaluation; and
  4. Evidence-to-use acceleration through continuous strategic communication, knowledge sharing, and stakeholder engagement. 

Implementation science activities are facilitated by HEARD’s expansive partnership, comprised of more than 35 institutions with a range of functions, expertise, and geographic and strategic positioning. As the project lead, URC serves as the Research Systems Integrator, fostering alignment of purpose, partners, and process within thematic area collaborations. Proper alignment results in improved questions, higher demand for evidence among decision-makers, and accelerated uptake of evidence to inform policy and programming.

Respectful Maternal Care (RMC) webinar from the Accelerating Evidence to Use in Policy and Programs webinar series

Achievements

HEARD has proven to be a flexible mechanism that leverages a partnership to address a wide range of health issues. HEARD’s global efforts currently span 17 countries. The project has established more than six active learning collaborations. Learning collaboration activities include more than 20 ongoing or completed research studies, two global evaluations, and four country-specific evaluation activities, with a number of emerging research activities planned. Illustrative highlights of HEARD’s results include:

  • Country-based evaluations have informed future U.S. Government bilateral investments;
  • Evidence generated on reproductive, maternal, child, and urban health have informed East, Central, and Southern Africa Health Community’s Ministerial Resolutions on urban health and respectful maternity care; and
  • The Advancing Post-Partum Hemorrhage Care Partnership developed by HEARD in Malawi and Madagascar tested and implemented innovative mentorship models for health providers.

Duration
2016–2022

Countries
Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guinea, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Panama, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda

Regions
Africa, Asia, Global, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Middle East

Expertise
COVID-19, Health Service Delivery, Health Workforce, Implementation Science, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, and Quality Health Systems

Funders
USAID

Partners
East, Central and Southern African Health Community (ECSA-HC), Ifakara Health Institute (IHI), Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), The City University of New York (CUNY), Universitas Indonesia, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, San Francisco, and West African Health Organization (WAHO)