Survey reveals 60 percent of SORT-IT alumni are currently involved with the COVID-19 response

The Union, on behalf the World Health Organization's Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (WHO-TDR), has undertaken a survey of Structured Operational Research Training Initiative (SORT IT) alumni. At a time when the global health community is faced with the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, gaining an understanding of the work being undertaken by the alumni is important to appreciate the role of the Centre for Operational Research at The Union and increase courage and solidarity amongst alumni.

WHO-TDR reported the survey findings, describing the SORT-IT initiative and the work of selected alumni, and revealing that many alumni are actively involved in the COVID-19 response.

Prof Anthony Harries, Senior Advisor in Research at The Union said: “As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads with frightening speed amongst all populations of the world causing untimely death and economic catastrophe, it is heartening to see that alumni trained through SORT IT are playing their part. Preliminary data indicate that over 60 percent of trained SORT IT alumni are currently involved with the COVID-19 response, of which 71 percent are using the skills that they obtained during the training to tackle the pandemic.

“The Union and its partner, Médecins Sans Frontières, can take pride in this achievement. Together, we developed, initiated and implemented the SORT IT model in 2009, enabling it a few years later to be internationally recognised and taken up as a global partnership led by TDR. This clearly demonstrates the enormous value of collaboration at all levels to achieve the universal goal of improving health for all and tackling global threats together. The Union is enormously grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Department for International Development, UK, for funding the SORT IT initiative at The Union for over 12 years from 2009 to 2020. Many thanks to the Centre for Operational Research at The Union for carrying out the survey at the request of WHO-TDR.”

Read more about how COVID-19 responders are applying skills gained from operational research training through SORT IT in the WHO-TDR newsletter.

SORT IT courses support countries to build sustainable capacity to conduct and publish operational research and use the evidence to inform decision-making to improve public health. Courses mentor participants to design study protocol, carry out the research, analyse the results, write up a scientific paper and submit the paper to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.