In Lao PDR, the Athena Institute is part of a consortium in the MCNV headed LEARN program (Lao Equity through policy Analysis and Research Networks). This is a 5 year program that is funded by the EU Commission to enhance the capabilities of public health institutes in Laos. Working together with a range of partners the program aims to ensure that the Laos National Institute of Public Health becomes of centre of excellence for the provision of evidence-based and contextually adapted policy advice. This evidence is used to enhance decision making and improve the implementation of health policies both within Laos and the wider Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS).
The role of Athena mainly lies with conducting PhD and post-doc training and research in the field of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Nutrition, as well as contributing to knowledge translation to ensure uptake of research evidence in health policy.
LEARN brings together a unique range of partners to achieve this goal. Together they will help ensure that:
- Effective and convincing evidence is available to policy-makers who are better able to use it for policy making and programming
- The National Institute of Public Health and its partners have increased access to finance, skilled human resources and information.
- Researchers are able to produce high quality research and are able to convincingly present results and recommendations to a wide range of stakeholders.
During its 5 year implementation the program will support a range of activities including. International scholarships will be made available for Lao researchers in order to gain PhD’s. A joint Masters in Public Health program will be conducted between the University of Health Sciences and Hanoi School of Public Health. An upgrade of the IT facilities will take place, as well as an introduction of a public health e-learning resource centre. A research grant scheme will be introduced to support the production of high quality research with Laos as well as the development of a long-term strategic plan for National Institute of Public Health. Finally, a wide range of workshops and trainings in areas ranging from ethics, transdisciplinary research practice, and production of policy briefs will be launched.