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UNC’s MEASURE Evaluation Project Receives $232 Million for Social Science Research

One of the largest research awards made to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) just got bigger, making MEASURE Evaluation, UNC’s largest project in global health, the recipient of the largest award — $231.9 million – ever received by the University.

[Photo: Dr. Jim Thomas]

A five-year cooperative agreement funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by UNC’s Carolina Population Center (CPC), MEASURE Evaluation is directed by Dr. James Thomas, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Three years ago, the project was awarded one of UNC’s largest awards ever – $179 million – for MEASURE Evaluation to work with developing countries to strengthen public health information systems. Because of the project’s reputation for excellent work, the demand for its services has increased steadily. USAID recently added another $52 million to the project’s funding ceiling. The additional monetary award was given because of increased demand for the services.

Led by UNC, the project has five partners – ICF, John Snow Inc., Management Sciences for Health, Palladium, and Tulane University. In addition to the $232 million, the project also has managed awards from USAID with nearly $72 million in funding ceilings for operations in three African countries – Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. These awards increase the combined overall project funding ceilings to $303 million over five years.

USAID has chosen the project to assist in almost every country where the agency works, especially in Africa. In the last three years alone, that has included nearly 50 countries and regions. The project helps those countries build information systems for collecting and using health data and supports them in guiding their public health systems with evidence from that data.

“We’ve seen some countries and regions increase their capabilities to generate better data for health,” Dr. Thomas said. “That’s a gratifying accomplishment of our work. It’s important because reliable data are the building blocks to improve health services for people who need them most.”

Closer to home, in the Chapel Hill, NC, headquarters, MEASURE Evaluation provides salaries for more than 100 people and hands-on research experience for many public health students, several of whom are working toward doctoral degrees.

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