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LEARN (Lao Equity through policy Analysis and Research Networks) enhanced the capabilities of public health institutes in Laos.

It is an EU-funded program, in which we are worked together with a range of partners to ensure that the Laos National Institute of Public Health became 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.

The role of Athena mainly was the conduction of PhD and post-doc training and research in the field of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Nutrition, as well as contribution to knowledge translation to ensure uptake of research evidence in health policy.

LEARN brought together a unique range of partners to achieve this goal. Together they ensured that:

  1. Effective and convincing evidence is available to policy-makers who are better able to use it for policy making and programming
  2. The National Institute of Public Health and its partners have increased access to finance, skilled human resources and information.
  3. Researchers are able to produce high quality research and are able to convincingly present results and recommendations to a wide range of stakeholders.

Outcomes
During its 5 year implementation the program supported a range of activities. International scholarships were made available for Lao researchers in order to gain PhD’s. A joint Masters in Public Health program was conducted between the University of Health Sciences and Hanoi School of Public Health. An upgrade of the IT facilities took place, as well as an introduction of a public health e-learning resource centre. A research grant scheme was 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 was launched.