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Learning Evaluation of the Strengthening Equity through Applied Research Capacity building in eHealth (SEARCH)

Field of Expertise:
Health Research and Information; Health Information System / Epidemiology /M&E frameworks; Health Information System / Epidemiology /M&E frameworks; Health Research and Information; Health Research; Health Systems Research
Narrative description of project:
The Canadian IDRC SEARCH program was developed to cultivate local research capacity to examine e-health and whether it leads to improved health equity and stronger health systems. The projects, in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Peru, and Vietnam, involve local research teams working closely with community members, health providers, and decision-makers at local and national levels to examine a range of health issues, including both communicable and non-communicable diseases.
The evaluation of the IDRC SEARCH program set out to explore the extent to which networking among researchers could be stimulated with minimal network management, solely driven by the four program objectives: (i) strengthen, redesign and improve health system processes; (ii) support key health system operations essential for equity, (iii) generate evidence for decision-making, and (iv) increase social participation, accountability and transparency.

The evaluation of the SEARCH program was implemented by Josef Decosas of hera and Lawrence Mbuagbaw of McMaster University. Over a period of two years, the SEARCH research teams and IDRC staff participated in discussions, interviews and on-line surveys to provide data for the evaluation.  

The full evaluation report is available on the IDRC website:
Description of services provided:
hera, was contracted to set up a SharePoint networking site and monitor inter-project exchanges to assess the patterns, types and intensity of exchanges among researchers through social network analysis. The evaluation focused on the program level, i.e. on the portfolio of projects and the outcomes achieved through interactions and interchanges among them. It applied an open-ended realist evaluation methodology documenting evolving knowledge rather than measuring the achievement of predefined results. Data were collected through document reviews, two on-line surveys, and three rounds of key informant interviews. The main analytical methods employed were content and social network analyses.