In Albania there is a need to boost capacities in operational research with a focus on Primary Health Care and Public Health. The country lacks research education in health professional curricula and teaching documents on research topics in Albanian language. Moreover, there is lack of financial resources to practice and implement research activities in the frame of University Curricula.  “During my studies in pharmacy, the statistics course was the only one related to research. Thus, it has been very difficult to gain proper training on research” – states Joana, a young researcher in the health domain.

Therefore, Health for All (HAP), a SDC project implemented by Swiss TPH, established an intensive research training program, that aims at offering a comprehensive introduction into Scientific Operational Research methods and other related aspects. The program consists of 12 modules and the subjects vary, from how to develop a research protocol to translation of data into knowledge and policies, thus impacting the improvement of health system and service organization and management. All the modules are taught in Albanian as a response to the needs of young researchers. “I very much appreciate the fact that, differently from other trainings I have attended, the entire program is delivered in Albanian and the teaching material is mostly in Albanian, that makes it much easier to understand the technical part”, – states one of the participants in the program.

The program targets young researchers interested in conducting operational research in Primary Health Care and Public Health. The first cohort of researchers attending the program is composed of professionals with different backgrounds, from medicine and public health to economic sciences. “The program has been very valuable to me because it has helped me to clarify any uncertainty I had in relation to scientific research – states one participant. – I would like to underline the fact that the modules are carefully selected and very interactive, include case studies and are delivered by experienced lecturers who bring practical examples.”

About 65 teaching hours have been spent to deliver this training program. A module-based evaluation is applied to help empowerment of participants and motivation for positive changes of the organizers.

HAP plans replicating the training program to other cohorts of students and young professionals  in order to increase the interest and capacities to conduct research in health and to create a critical mass of young researchers, that can benefit from funding opportunities and produce information and data for an evidence-based decision-making in health.  HAP is hoping also that the program can be adopted by the respective continuing education units at the Faculty of Medicine and other interested faculties. Under its goal to enhance research capacities in Albania, HAP is supporting an initiative that provides micro-funds to young researchers for conducting operational research activities in health.