Guest blog: reflections of a budding Lao HTA researcher on internship at HITAP & MORU
My name is Vanhpheng CHANPHOTHONG, I am Laotian. I work at Institute of Research and Education Development, University of Health Sciences, Lao PDR. I was invited to come to Thailand in August 2019 to attend HITAP’s training in economic evaluation and afterwards complete an internship where we looked at introducing typhoid vaccination in Lao PDR.
Coming to Thailand with utmost excitement in receiving first-hand mentorship from senior HTA researchers from Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Program (HITAP) was truly fulfilling. We were not only taught on enhancing our skills in performing economic evaluation and budget impact analysis, but also received training on evidence translation. It was a packed five days of learning and relearning fundamental concepts of Health Technology Assessment (HTA) in Richmond hotel and five days of practice at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), which were very useful not only for my professional growth, but also to the institution I represent.
The training had many highlights. One of the things I appreciated was how the teaching faculty were highly-skilled educators. They were excellent in explaining complex concepts while keeping the participants engaged all throughout the lectures. Aside from their effective teaching style, they brought a lot of practical and insightful policy experience to the table.
Majority of the examples used in the course material were from their relevant studies, or from their own experiences working with MORU and HTA agencies in the region. Another highlight for me was the group work on estimating QALYs using Time-Trade-Off and standard gamble, which I particularly enjoyed since this is very relevant to a research project that I am currently working on. Through this hands-on exercise, I gained a better understanding of how health state utilities are measured and valued a concept that I only learned through books previously, and the importance of having context-specific, preference-based measures of utilities.
The five days in MORU intensive training sessions on economic modelling and budget impact analysis were arranged for us where everyone was welcome to ask questions. We learned that although it is important to seek comments from Dr. Pran and her team regarding the topics, Cost Effectiveness of Typhoid Vaccination in Lao PDR. Lecture on budget impact analysis showed us how results should be presented to decision makers for effective communication of findings. Furthermore, we were encouraged to challenge ourselves by thinking beyond the research and more on the policy implications along with planning the data collection method and determining the appropriate verification and validation plan.
I hope to be able to come back to HITAP soon to continue training in other topics and I am very grateful to HITAP and MORU for continuously supporting our efforts to institutionalize HTA in Lao PDR, and I hope that there will be more opportunities to work together in the future.