Structure and main functions
The functions of the directorate are as indicated in the Institutional mandate which include:
- To carry out, and promote the carrying out of, medical research designed to alleviate disease among the people of Tanzania
- To carry out, and promote the carrying out of research into various aspects of local traditional medical practices for the purpose of facilitating the development and application of herbal medicine
- To promote, or provide facilities for, the training of local personnel for carrying out scientific research into medical problems
- To monitor, control and coordinate medical research carried out within Tanzania, or elsewhere on behalf of or for the benefit of the Government of Tanzania, and to evaluate the findings of that research.
Currently, the Directorate is made up of departments of Health Research Promotion, Advocacy and Registration, Traditional Medicine Research, Health Systems and Policy Research and Research Monitoring and Coordination. A recently established Environmental Health Management and Safety Research Unit is also under the Directorate of Research Coordination and Promotion.
Department of Health Research Promotion, Advocacy and Registration
The Department is responsible for the registration system, evaluate, control, coordinate, and monitor all health research carried out in the country.
The department is responsible for monitoring approved health research, on progress and the way it is carried out in the field as per approved health research proposal. The system of monitoring approved health research has been established and is on annual basis. The department has developed guidelines, and is continually updating the guidelines, regulations and standard operating procedures for evaluating, monitoring and controlling new, ongoing and approved health research projects. These are:
- Standard Operating Procedures for the National Ethics Committee, for use by other Institutional Research Ethics Committees in the country.
- Guidelines for Insuring Health research participants in clinical trials.
- Ethics Review tools
- Oversight monitoring tools for researchers and participants
The Department hosts the National Health Research ethics Review Committee (NatHREC), as well as the Sub Committee for Clinical trials. Since its establishment, the Committee has held about 60 meetings and several special and ad hoc meetings to evaluate and deliberate of health research proposals, and 10 meetings of the Clinical trials committee to evaluate the Clinical Trials to be conducted in the country.
Department of Research Monitoring and Evaluation
The Department of Research Monitoring and Evaluation is entrusted to follow-up research plans and activities in line with set goals from beginning to the end of the research activity. In order to execute this primary function the department in collaboration with other directorates and centres, manages and continues to:
- Undertake preparation and implementation of the Institute Strategic Plans
- Source for research funds and grants
- Monitor progress on development and research projects and makes evaluation of success or failures and recommends for better performances
- Prepare and submits progress and final reports to project donors/ supporters and NIMR Management
- Coordinate the activities of Health Research Users’ Trust Fund (HRUTF) to ensure demand driven research questions for Tanzanian community, are addressed
- Promoting employing ethical conducts in health research
Department of Traditional Medicine Research
The Department is responsible for promoting and carrying out research on local traditional medical practices for the purpose of facilitating the development and application of herbal medicine in modern care. The department was established in 2000 and became functional in 2003. The department is manned with qualified staff in photochemistry, analytical chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, pathology and pharmacology. The department has been able and continues to:
- Initiate collaborations and work closely with traditional healers and communities practicing traditional healing methods
- Collect information on traditional medical practices, herbal drugs employed and perceived efficacy
- Identify the sources of herbal drugs in various communities in Tanzania
- Analyse the chemical ingredients of herbal drugs and assess their efficacy and safety for possible human use
- Carry out proof of claim clinical observation and proof of concept clinical trials of herbal drugs
- Standardize, formulate and develop protocol for the production of safe and efficacious herbal drugs for the treatment of human diseases
- Carry out production of herbal drugs following the good manufacturing practice
- Carry out the cultivation of medicinal plants that are proved to be effective and safe.
Department of Health Systems and Policy Research
The department of Health Systems and Policy Research is responsible for providing advice on health systems and policy research as well as advice the management on research results with policy implication for utilization and action. In addition to carrying out research, the department disseminates research findings and promote their practical utilization in policy formulation.
Environmental Health Management and Safety Research (EHSR) Unit
The Unit has the following functions:
- Identification of environmental and safety stressors in communities, workplaces, and special circumstances.
- Analysis of human interaction with environmental stressors and the way they impact health
- Assessment of health risks (disease or non disease) posed by exposures to environmental and safety stressors.
- Analysis of disease prevention, health promotion, and hazard mitigation strategies
- Evaluation of environmental health and safety policies, and service provision
- Discovery and evaluation of innovative technologies for hazard mitigation and health protection
- Undertake community and institution level intervention to prevent diseases, promote health, and save life