A TDR/IDRC Research Initiative
Innovative Community-based Ecosystem Management Interventions for Improved Dengue and Chagas Disease Prevention in Latin America and the Caribbean
I. Rationale and background
The UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), in collaboration with the International Develop-ment Research Centre (IDRC), invites concept notes for research projects on innovative community-based ecosystem management
approaches to dengue and Chagas disease prevention in low and middle-income countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). It is expected that projects funded under this initiative will:
- lead to a better understanding of the interaction between ecological, biological, social and economic ("eco-bio-social") determinants of dengue and Chagas disease transmission in Latin America and the Caribbean;
- contribute to the development of inter-sectoral ecosystem management interventions for dengue and Chagas disease prevention; and
- contribute to innovation and application in public health policy and practice regarding ecosystem management interventions for communicable disease prevention. Dengue fever and Chagas disease are important public health problems in Latin America and the Caribbean. Once a well-controlled disease in LAC, dengue re-emerged in the 1980s because of unplanned urbanization, migration and travel, demographic growth and deteriorating vector control measures. Chagas disease continues to prevail in many Latin American countries mainly as a disease of poverty due to the presence of vectors in poorly constructed houses and linked to ecosystem degradation. Although the vectoria l transmission of Chagas disease has been largely eliminated from the Southern Cone countries of Latin America with massive chemical interventions, re-infestation persists particularly in the Great Chaco region and is progressing in many regions of Central America. It is thought that early detection of
re-infestation and ecological management of the peridomestic and domestic environment are crucial for preventing the resurgence of the disease.
II. Research issues
Specific ecosystem management issues that could be addressed for dengue prevention and control include, however, are not limited to the following:
1. Intersectoral approaches to vector control based on environmental management practices, combined with community mobilization, for example, through partnerships between communities and municipal services to improve water management and solid waste disposal. Improved water
management and vector control efforts focusing on productive water container types.
2. Partnerships between communities, municipalities and other stakeholders for the deployment and use of appropriate prevention and control "tools" for the particular setting, which may include biological (non-chemical) and/or chemical tools.
3. Novel approaches to integrated vector management as part of participatory ecosystem management.
4. Research on changes in vector behaviour, vulnerability and intersectoral adaptation strategies for ecosystem dynamics affecting dengue transmission. Specific ecosystem management issues that could be addressed for Chagas disease prevention and control include, however, are not limited to the following:
1. Innovative partnership-driven vector control efforts - involving communities and municipalities and/or other stakeholder groups
- targeting vector species occuring in peri-domestic, sylvatic and domestic environments, particularly ecosystem management approaches addressing specific ecological niches (e.g., palm tree plantations and their socio-economic context) of Chagas disease vectors.
2. Better understanding of the ecological and socio-economic factors affecting vector species with high levels of household re-infestation to assist identification of sustainable prevention/intervention methodologies.
3. Multisectoral community development efforts, including infrastructural (e.g. novel housing) improvement, particularly in combination with other approaches. Partnership-driven deployment and use of appropriate prevention and control "tools" for the particular
4. Generating evidence on intersectoral responses to ecosystem degradation and vector species migration. For both dengue and Chagas disease: Targeted ecosystem/partnership-driven interventions for both diseases in specific urban, peri-urban and rural contexts, based on an ecosystem understanding of habitat patterns linked to poverty and environment
III. Concept note
The concept note should outline the objectives, design, methodology and estimated budget of a four-year research project (to be carried out end 2009-2013) with two phases, i.e.,
(a) a study of the dynamics between ecological, biological and social factors as they shape the transmission dynamics of dengue and/or Chagas disease in a defined setting, preferably an urban and peri-urban ecosystem; and
(b) an interventio development and evaluation study, based on the findings from the initial phase:
(a) A situation assessment informed by an analytical framework combining ecological factors (e.g., vector ecology, climatic factors), with biological (e.g., sero-conversion rates, vector infection rates) and social factors (e.g., public services, housing patterns, water storage and garbage disposal practices, community dynamics). The studies should be conducted by inter-disciplinary research teams, potentially composed of scientists with different disciplinary backgrounds, including, but not limited to, eco logists, biologists, entomologists, biomedical scientists (immunologists, virologists, parasitologists), clinical
scientists/practitioners, epidemiologists, anthropologists, sociologists, economists, urban planners, and policy analysts/political scientists. This component of the study will be based on standard research techniques usually employed by these basic and strategic sciences and by health systems/health/public services research.
(b) The intervention study should be based on clear definitions of (i) appropriate prevention and control "tools" for the particular setting; (ii) strategies for partnership-driven ecosystem management approaches and/or community development, including a description of potential actors involved (e.g., community co-operatives, schools, municipal services, vector control staff); and (iii) an evaluation framework. The concept notes should provide the outline of a preliminary draft proposal of 5 pages (A 4, 12 point), excluding CVs, outlining the following:
i. Project title
ii. Proposed Principal Investigator (PI), research institution and proposed multi-disciplinary study team (with disciplinary expertise)
iii. Problem statement with respect to ecosystem management interventions for dengue and Chagas disease prevention and control
iv. Brief literature review (both published and grey literature specific to the ecosystem under study)
v. Study site, ecosystem and community description
vi. Overall and specific objectives
vii. Research questions and indicators (for transdisciplinary analyses)
ix. Expected outputs, outcomes and impact
x. Existing public health and/or community partnerships or partnerships expected to be established in the course of the research programme
xi. Indicative budget. Funding up to a maximum of US$ 300,000 for a four year programme is
available for selected studies. The final year should include significant dissemination, knowledge exchange and transfer activities. Short one-page CVs of PI and proposed scientists, including letters from scientists of other institutions confirming their willingness to
collaborate on the proposed activity, should be attached. Selected research teams which have submitted successful concept notes will be invited to a protocol development workshop in July 2009. Submission of a concept note indicates general willingness and availability to participate in the workshop with two members of the research team having different but complementary disciplinary backgrounds. Participation in the workshop does not automatically
guarantee funding of the future proposal. Proposals will be ultimately reviewed by an external expert committee, the S pecial Project Team (SPT) and only selected proposals showing highest scientific merit and relevance including linkages with health and environment institutions will be recommended for funding.
IV. How the Steering Committee (Special Project Team, SPT) overlooking this research initiative works Concept notes to be considered for proposal development will be evaluated according to scientific merit and relevance to the call, with special attention to the following features:
- Multi-disciplinary research teams
- Involvement of key stakeholders (both at the national policy as well as the local policy implementation level, e.g. communities,municipalities, resident welfare societies)
- Trans-disciplinary research framework
- Social mobilization and community participation components
- Gender-sensitive approach
- Multi-scale / multi-level analysis
- Dissemination and utilization of research results
- Policy linkages based on research results
- Clear and well defined objectives
- Appropriate and feasible research questions
- Concise, pertinent, complete, appropriate literature review
- Sound analytic framework and feasible design, including intervention design
- Appropriate methodology
- Appropriate data collection methods
- Appropriate response to ethical issues and challenges
- Time plan
- Soundness and appropriateness of budget Relevance
- Appropriateness of the methodology to the problem and the context
- Community engagement
- Gender issues
- Plans to engage non researchers, those who have a stake in the research results
- Attention to gender and equity issues
- Potential for capacity development of research team, institution and community/participants
- Potential to strengthen organizational capacity
- Research capacity to influence policy and clear dissemination plan in order to reach policy and other decision makers.
- Significance of research to/in beneficiary livelihoods
- Quality of the institution (s)/team
- Existing capacity of institution and potential for increased capability
- Ability of the Principal Investigator to manage the project (% time dedication should be clear)
- Team composition suitable to the tasks proposed
V. How to apply
Concept notes in English (preferred) or Spanish should be submitted by regular mail or e-mail (preferably as a pdf file, indicating in the e-mail subject line: "Concept Note EBS Programme") and will be reviewed by the Special Project Team (SPT) in April/May 2009.
Wednesday, 15 April 2009