African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC)

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African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
Shelter Afrique Center
Longonot Road, Upper Hill
P.O. Box 10787-00100 GPO
Nairobi, Kenya

Tel. +254 20 2720400/1/2
Fax: +254 20 2720380

Email: info@aphrc.org
Website: http://www.aphrc.org

Ms. Rose Oronje, Communication Manager, roronje@aphrc.org

Description

Established in 1995 as a Population Policy Research Fellowship program of the Population Council, with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) was.registered as a nonprofit corporation in the State of Delaware in the United States of America in April 1999. In 2001, it became an autonomous institution with its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The Center is now registered with the Registrar of Companies in Kenya, giving it distinct legal status in the country. With the mission to promote the well-being of Africans through policy-relevant research on population and health, the Center brings together African scholars to develop priority research programs and enhance the use of research findings for policy formulation and program improvement in sub-Saharan Africa. It conducts extensive formative research on critical population and health issues affecting the African continent such as fertility decline, family planning, HIV and AIDS, health resource allocation, reproductive health needs, demographic and health profiles.

The APHRC works in partnership with several civil society organizations, Government institutions and networks, and multilateral partners which include the Alan Guttmacher Institute, JHPIEGO, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, Intermediate Technology Development Group, Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, Population Council, INDEPTH Network, European Commission, DFID, World Bank, World Health Organization, universities like the Makerere University (Uganda), University of Cape Coast (Ghana), University of Colorado (USA), University of Ghana, University of Malawi, University of Pennsylvania (USA), University of Southampton (UK) and the University of Nairobi (Kenya).

APHRC has been funded by the Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Track Record

The aforementioned activities of APHRC have engendered a number of accomplishments. Today APHRC has managed to strengthen professional and institutional research capacity in Africa, encouraged and supported Africans to develop and carry out research, and fostered the dissemination and utilization of accurate and timely research findings for sound policy formulation. It has also been able to achieve balanced resource allocation and program improvement, publish its research findings in leading scientific journals and facilitated utilization of research results for program improvement by making the findings available in a timely and comprehensive manner to policy makers and program managers.

Further, the centre offers four-month residential sabbatical fellowships for senior African scholars to provide intellectual leadership in developing the conceptual and theoretical framework for the study of education and sexuality that seeks to strengthen intellectual foundations for research on sexuality and education in sub-Saharan Africa, funded by the Ford Foundation.

APHRC has developed several programs to help clarify the changing relationships between urban health and poverty, and to investigate emerging population and health issues in sub-Saharan Africa. One of these is the Regional Program on Urban Poverty and Health in Africa, which seeks to extend the NUHPP work to other African cities exhibiting similar urbanization patterns. The program aims to provide research evidence on the nature and magnitude of urban inequities. Its Urbanization, Poverty and Health Dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa program addresses key health consequences of rapid urbanization and growing urban poverty at different stages of the life course namely childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age.

In fact, committed to high-quality research that is relevant and responsive to policy and programming needs in sub-Saharan Africa, the center has maximized the impact of its research, by publishing its research findings in leading scientific journals, and by facilitating utilization of research results for program improvement. This is arrived at by making the findings available in a timely and comprehensible manner to policy makers and program managers at national and grassroot levels through project reports, dissemination seminars and policy briefs. In fact, many of the dissemination seminars were well covered in the local media, and a number of papers based on these studies were authored by Center staff and published in peer-reviewed journals.

Challenges

From the above assessment, APHRC’s main challenges may be categorized as: i) Institutional capacity building, ii) Financial resource mobilization, and iii) awareness creation and advocacy.

The challenge associated with awareness creation and advocacy is to make concrete contributions to science and policy, which will be judged primarily by the excellence of APHRC’s work, including scientific publications and policy impact. It is clear that with respect to publications, it may take a while, possibly more than three years, before the urban study—the core research activity of APHRC—starts yielding analyzable data for scientific publications. Consequently, publications during the next three years will mostly be based on projects dealing with other critical population and health issues on the continent, and using other existing data sources.

Regarding policy impact, the APHRC places emphasis on dialogue with policy makers throughout the research process. Although this may sometimes be an arduous process, such dialogue is recognized as critical to maximizing the policy impact of its research. In all cases, however, the Center will have to remain committed to the scientific integrity of its research and accurate representation of the findings. Deliberate efforts will have to be made to increase international awareness of population and health issues specific to the African continent since international development partners play key roles in determining priority areas for development assistance and in influencing regional and national policies.

Another key challenge relates to institutional capacity building. Immediate capacity strengthening is necessary to meet the critical mass required for APHRC to realize its goals. It is recognized that attracting and retaining highly qualified researchers will remain a constant challenge given the high demand for such calibre of researchers in the international job market. Through competitive remuneration packages and provision of a conducive research environment, the Center hopes to attract and retain leading African scientists.

Opportunities

The organization’s financial challenges create an opportunity to urgently modify APHRC’s funding strategy to ensure sustainability beyond the initial three-year period. More partners are required to facilitate the continuation of its objectives and especially research projects, dissemination and utilization activities, and research capacity strengthening initiatives. This gamut provides great opportunities for partnership.

Likewise, for the Center to fulfill its objective of producing high-quality research and to assure its financial sustainability, it requires a core staff of senior researchers in addition to fellows and short-term staff to run project activities. Therefore, longer-term or renewable contracts for senior fellows would enhance the quality and continuity of the Center's work.

The underlying principle of the APHRC's marketing strategy is that it ought to remain at the top of cutting-edge issues in population and health research, while paying ample attention to the policy relevance of such work in sub-Saharan Africa. APHRC's has an opportunity to carry its research work beyond peer-reviewed publications to having impact on on-going policy discourse by addressing emerging issues on the national and international policy dialogue agenda.

Although APHRC´s work is limited in sub-Saharan Africa, the opportunity of expanding its functions to the rest of Africa is viable. However, its work is not adequately disseminated to the rest of Africa since this would require substantial funding. This is a major opportunity for international cooperation partners.

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