T-REC: Strengthening capacity for blood transfusion research in Ghana and Zimbabwe
Without home-grown expertise to initiate and carry out highquality research, the capacity of blood transfusion services in sub-Saharan Africa to produce context-specific evidence to inform policy and practice is limited. Since 2011, the T-REC consortium of academics and health service practitioners and policy makers has been collaborating to bring academic rigour and research expertise into the transfusion services in Ghana and Zimbabwe, equipping individuals with research skills while strengthening research systems within transfusion services. T-REC provides funding and support for PhD students undertaking research addressing the highest priority needs of the transfusion services, a Professional Diploma course in Project Design and Management to build the competence and confidence of health service professionals in research and drive the development of institutional research systems, and bursaries allowing university students and their supervisors to explore the wealth of opportunities for research that is available within the transfusion service. This article provides an update on the project to date, and illustrates its successes and challenges with reference to some of the students, courses and institutions involved. The range of projects successfully undertaken within T-REC suggests that the lack of research funding opportunities targeted specifically towards blood transfusion should and can be addressed. Future research collaborations beyond the time span of the project should be promoted between transfusion services and academic institutions to strengthen the research ethos and put sustainable structures and systems in place.
Keywords: Blood transfusion, research, capacity strengthening, Africa