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Call for Research Proposals From Civil Society Organizations

Call for Research Proposals From Civil Society Organizations

The Global Forum for Health Research together with the WHO Scientific Resource Group (SRG) on Equity Analysis and Research and the People's Health Movement (PHM) are very pleased to announce that 93 proposals from 53 countries were received from the call for research proposals from civil society organizations (CSOs).

These proposals have been reviewed by a selection panel constituted of members of the SRG, PHM Steering Committee and the Global Forum for Health Research.


Call for research proposals from civil society organizations

Civil society organizations (CSO's) were invited to to submit proposals on the theme:-

‘Advancing health equity through research and practice – identifying what works to reduce health inequities’.

The call for research proposals is now closed. Successful applicants will be informed on 16 July 2022 and proposals will be posted soon afterwards for open consultation.

CSOs interested in evaluating the interventions they implemented and their impacts both on health outcomes and on health equity are invited to submit research proposals. The interventions (including policies, programmes, etc) to be evaluated need to address social, economic and political determinants of health. Submission of proposals dealing with interventions and research projects already in progress is strongly encouraged.


Published research oriented toward reducing health inequity has until recently been devoted more to explaining health inequities than to designing and evaluating policy interventions to reduce inequities. Research is needed to evaluate the health equity impact of policy and actions, whether in the health sector or in other sectors. One of the three top level recommendations by the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH) is to continue research, monitoring and evaluation, with a focus on what interventions work to reduce health inequities. The recent WHO Task Force Report on “Priorities for research on equity and health”, called for a third wave in global health research, that explicitly links broader social, political, and economic determinants with improvements in equity in health, and emphasized the need for innovative research designs for evaluating policy and program interventions to reduce health inequities.

Local level solutions and those addressing a broad range of social determinants are often those with the greatest innovation and impact. For example, policies and projects addressing issues such as provision of education, water and sanitation, and farming technologies or the empowerment of disadvantaged groups have significant potential consequences for health and health equity. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) often lead the development and implementation of such interventions that lead to concrete improvements in real life settings, and yet CSOs don't always have the opportunity to document or evaluate interventions that are in place. Moreover, CSOs need to be viewed as potential partners in the entire research process, i.e. from the design stage to dissemination cycle, and should not be viewed as merely being capable of voicing “community needs” or disseminating research findings. In addition, research funding needs to be sensitive to the necessity for civil society participation throughout - from the stage of priority setting to refining evaluation methods and to communicating what concrete actions can be taken to reduce health inequities. Finally, civil society has a key role in policy change through its constituencies in engaging on and influencing policy choices, and in linking the evidence and knowledge from research to policy processes. These processes were discussed and further reinforced during the Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health 2008 in Bamako and during Global Forum on Health Research 2009 in Havana.

Examples of high-priority research questions addressing action on social determinants of health

  • Interventions that address health equity implications of current trends in food prices, agricultural policies and food (in)security, and changes in trade and investment in all aspects of food production, processing and sale. What policy and program responses will avoid negative impacts, and reduce food insecurity?
  • Interventions that address different policy entry points to reduce the health inequities arising from health worker migration patterns, identifying the critical policy actors.
  • Interventions that address women’s health and social protection given the increasing “feminisation” of work forces that has often accompanied the globalisation of labour markets.
  • Interventions that address health equity with global climate change concerns, at the local level.
  • Interventions that use organisational structures within health systems to sustain active community participation, inter-sectoral action on social determinants of health, and the abilities of community members to influence policies.
  • Interventions that combine policy and implementation models, across sectors, that lead to improved local decision-making, net health equity gains in different vulnerable populations and community empowerment.
  • Interventions and approaches that effectively involve targeted communities or populations in intervention development, implementation and evaluation.
  • Interventions that effectively involve other sectors than the health sector in action oriented approaches to address health inequalities related to a wide range of health hazards (environmental, occupational, infrastructure such as roads, sanitation, etc.).

Purpose of the call

This call for research proposals aims at:

  • Identifying the four most promising operational research and evaluation proposals submitted by CSOs;
  • Refining methods, particularly on the attribution of changes in the distribution of health resulting from the interventions, and considerations to increase the interpretation and potential generalisability of results. For this, selected research proposals will be presented, discussed and improved during the 20th IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion, in Geneva, Switzerland;
  • Facilitating the conduct of winning research proposals by expert mentoring, facilitating contacts with potential research funders, a cash award of up to USD 10,000 (to contribute to evaluation of the intervention) and facilitating the dissemination of results.

Eligibility to apply for the call

  • The Principal Investigator in the proposal must be drawn from a civil society organization (CSO), such as registered charities, development NGOs, community groups, women's organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, trade unions, self-help groups, social movements, business associations, coalitions and advocacy groups.
  • Research proposals must be aimed at evaluating interventions (including policies, programmes, etc) addressing social, economic and political determinants of health, and their impacts both on health outcomes and on health equity. The evaluation should examine inequities among different social groups, not only between one disadvantaged group and a population average. Interventions are those implemented by civil society organizations (CSOs) and could potentially be adapted for implementation in other countries.
  • Teams submitting expressions of interest should demonstrate expertise in research for health or development, ability to design evaluation studies and ability to analyze data to evaluate impacts of interventions on health and health equity. Demonstration of advanced writing skills will be an advantage.
  • Submission of proposals dealing with interventions and research projects already in progress is strongly encouraged.
  • A budget and timeline must be included, specifying how the case award will contribute to the overall evaluation of the intervention.

Selection Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

1. Relevance of the intervention to be evaluated and its potential impact on public health and equity (25%)

  • Does the research evaluation involve the participation of individuals that should benefit from the intervention? Does the intervention address broader determinants of health?

2. Appropriateness of the methodological approach proposed for evaluating and documenting the success of the intervention on health equity, and exploring the factors responsible for success (25%)

  • Can the question proposed be answered through well-designed and conducted evaluation?
  • Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?
  • Does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools, or technologies for this area of investigation?

3. Technical capacity of the proposed research team and appropriateness of budget and timeline proposed (25%)

  • Is the research that is proposed logistically feasible, financially possible, and likely to produce timely results?
  • Does the investigative team bring complementary and integrated expertise to the project?
  • Does the proposed study benefit from unique features of the population the intervention addresses and/or employ useful collaborative arrangements?

4. Scope for learning lessons, generalisability of results and potential application to other contexts (25%)

  • What scope will the findings have to influence public policy and stimulate further action?
  • How feasible will it be to rapidly and widely implement the results of the research study?
  • Will the answers to the research question be generalizable to different settings, in the country and potentially beyond?

The final selection of proposals will be made principally upon the scores awarded to the proposals, but will also take account of geographical distribution of submissions and country income classification.

The sponsoring organizations reserve the right to select fewer applicants.

Format of Application

There is no template or application form. However, the application shall include the following outline:

  1. Intervention to be evaluated
  2. Methodology, including how equity impact (distribution of health) on the population will be assessed and what dimensions of equity will be examined
  3. How the results of the evaluation can be useful in other contexts
  4. Team members, affiliations, areas of expertise and contact details for the principal investigator
  5. Budget (USD) and timeline

The application should not be longer than four pages or 2000 words. It can be completed in any of the official UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish). If you want to submit in another language, please request in advance.

Selection process

Step 1: The WHO Scientific Resource Group (SRG) on Equity Analysis and Research, sub-group on research and the Global Forum for Health Research will screen all applications according to the eligibility criteria. The ones which are incomplete will, in principle, not be processed further.

Step 2: Applications (without identification data) will be sent to and evaluated by the selection committee, composed of experts in the field of Equity Analysis and Research, including individuals from the SRG on Health Equity Analysis and Research and People’s Health Movement.

Step 3: Applicants will be notified in June 2010 as to whether or not they have been selected. Up to four winning proposals will be posted on the PHM-Global Forum-WHO websites for open consultation and principal investigators be invited (travel, registration and accommodation paid) to present their proposals during the IUHPE Conference in Geneva.

Step 4: Proposals will be amended by the research teams and the winners granted with a first installment of half of the award, a quarter after interim progress report and a quarter after final report.

Key dates

  • 21 April 2022 Opening date for applications
  • 23 May 2022 Deadline for submission of applications
  • 30 May to 4 June Selection of applications
  • 7 June 2022 Successful applicants informed
  • 14 June 2022 Proposals posted on PHM-Global Forum-WHO websites for open consultation
  • 11-15 July 2010 Session during IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion in Geneva: successful applicants present more details on their proposals and an expert panel and audience further discusses
  • 1 September 2022 Final proposals posted on PHM-Global Forum-WHO websites.
  • September 2010 Initiation of intervention evaluation research
  • July 2011 Interim progress report
  • March 2012 Final report
  • June 2012 Learning across all projects synthesized

The application should be emailed as a Word or PDF document to Sylvie Olifson. In the header of the email, please put "CSOs advancing health equity”. Receipt of applications will be confirmed by e-mail. The deadline for submission is 23 May 2010.


Frequently Asked Questions ...

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