ARCADE RSDH develops new research training capacity in research on social determinants of health (RSDH) in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Asia. The focus is on postgraduate training, institutional strengthening for education and grants management, and LMICs-based network building. Novel capacity building approaches will reduce brain drain, be more climate friendly and encourage gender equity. Internet mounted downloadable modules will support delivering excellent interdisciplinary courses. Addressing social determinants of health and tackling health inequity are research intensive. Therefore LMICs need to grow their own capacity to strengthen RSDH: interdisciplinary, rigorous and relevant.

Problem: Health inequities exist within and between countries, and are prevalent in Asia. Efforts to improve health equity can be significantly strengthened by incorporating a SDH approach into policy. This requires a greatly increased local capacity for research on SDH, the promotion of multi-disciplinary research, and the compilation of research findings and their dissemination to guide policymaking. In order to achieve these aims, a substantial increase in the number of people with the necessary multi-disciplinary skills is required.

Aim: ARCADE-RSDH aims to support evidence informed decision making by producing a stream of well-trained young RSDH scientists, the next generation of health system leaders and researchers in Asian LMICs.

Results: ARCADE RSDH reviewed the needs for training in research on social determinants of health and discovered that there was an unequal distribution of resources across universities to provide this training. In addition, there were few training courses addressing these issues. In order to address these gaps, and to improve the selection of courses at partner universities, ARCADE RSDH has developed course modules, both blended learning and self learning on topics related to research methods training and social determinants of health. To date, we have completed five blended learning courses and produced three self learning courses. Our hub partners in India and China have created Moodle platforms, which have hosted blended and self-learning courses. Three cross-institutional programmes including support for postgraduate students, have been created. The consortium members have also submitted funding proposals in order to secure grants. We have supported grants management activities at partner institutions and developed a dissemination strategy to guide the dissemination of outputs.

Potential applications: The blended learning courses developed within ARCADE RSDH will be subject to creative commons licences. This means that courses will be freely accessible to staff and students in Asia and across the world. These courses can therefore contribute towards excellent education also after the end of the project. With the close collaboration and development of partnerships between institutions and capacity building for students and institutions, it is expected that ARCADE RSDH can contribute toward building capacity in RSDH in Asia.