Professor Rashida Ferrand, THRU ZIM Director, introduces the unit and explains the reasons for the change.
The Health Research Unit Zimbabwe (THRU ZIM) – why rename from the Zimbabwe LSHTM Research Partnership?
After much deliberation, this change was made in responses to the concerns raised by both our staff and collaborators who wanted our unit to have a clear Zimbabwean identity and our name to reflect our collaboration, not only with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), but with a large number of national and international institutions, and the previous name did not reflect this.
For those who aren’t familiar with THRU ZIM, could you summarise what The Health Research Unit Zimbabwe does?
We are a unit embedded within the Biomedical Research and Training Institute (BRTI), a not-for-profit research institution registered in Zimbabwe. Our aim is to tackle public health problems of relevance to Zimbabwe and the region, through interdisciplinary observational and interventional research combined with advocacy and engagement with both policy makers and communities. Importantly, strengthening research capacity and training the next generation of global health leaders underpins all our work.
Your vision is "To deliver world-class Africa led research to improve health" – why is this important to you and your unit?
I firmly believe that research can effect step change but for this to happen we need to be embedded within health systems, ask relevant questions and engage with policy makers and communities. Health interventions need to be contextually-relevant and locally owned. For too long, however, the health research agenda and policy for Africa and much of the Global South has been driven by the Global North, and flow of knowledge has been from North to South - a legacy of colonialism. Our vision is to change this and to foster a different model of global health, whereby global health leaders from the South will work in equitable partnership - but not be dominated by - institutions in the global North, and that there will be bi-directional flow of knowledge and wisdom. I would like to stress that “Africa-led” research does not mean working in isolation - what we have achieved over the last decade would not have been possible without the investment – both financial, intellectual and more-of our partners.
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