University Research Co., LLC (URC) is a global company dedicated to improving the quality of health care, social services, and health education worldwide. With our non-profit affiliate, the Center for Human Services (CHS), URC manages projects in over 40 countries. Internationally, URC works in developing and middle income countries to improve access to and quality of maternal, newborn, and child health services; address infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria; and improve reproductive health and family planning services. In the United States, URC focuses on improving communication related to issues like substance abuse, with a particular focus on reaching underserved populations.
Established in 1965, URC offers a range of technical assistance to strengthen health and social systems and service quality by empowering communities and health workers to identify and scale up locally appropriate solutions to critical problems. URC focuses on finding ways to deliver proven approaches to health care problems, applying quality improvement (QI) methods and conducting operations research to tailor those approaches to various settings. Recognizing implementation barriers unique to each setting, we train local managers and service providers to strengthen health systems, integrate system elements, and bring improvements to scale. URC also specializes in designing health messages and materials to educate target audiences about improving health behaviors.
To provide innovative, evidence-based solutions to health and social challenges worldwide.
Health Systems Approach to HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment
URC’s programs are creating sustainable service delivery systems for quality HIV prevention, care, and treatment in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Russia, and the United States. We use a health systems approach and proven quality improvement methods to achieve rapid improvements in HIV/AIDS service delivery, uptake, and retention.
Through women-centered initiatives, we are working to reduce neonatal and perinatal mortality among all mothers, prevent new HIV infections among children and adults, increase the use and effectiveness of treatment services, and reduce medical transmission of HIV. We have also carried out seminal studies on how to improve human resources for HIV/AIDS services and reduce stigma and discrimination.
Examples of URC’s work on HIV/AIDS in specific countries include:
URC is working with the Botswana MoH Department of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care to improve the quality and use of HIV prevention and care services and to expand access to high-quality counseling and testing services, including for children and adolescents. URC supported the development of a model for countrywide expansion of routine HIV-testing strategies and helped to develop guidelines for Child and Adolescent Counseling and Testing for HIV.
In Nicaragua, URC supports efforts to increase healthy behaviors to reduce the transmission of HIV among most-at-risk populations (MARPs) and the population at large. We enable 20 NGOs providing HIV prevention services to MARPs to expand their prevention efforts and build their capacity, resulting in greater impact and internal sustainability. A number of these NGOs have been trained in methodologies for the reduction of stigma and discrimination so that they can include stigma and discrimination reduction strategies in their operational plans. Overall, URC along with the NGOs and other stakeholders works to promote a multi-sector approach to HIV prevention with specific tailored approaches to different vulnerable and hard to reach populations.
In partnership with local organizations and other stakeholders, URC in Nigeria works to strengthen the HIV/AIDS service delivery system, including HIV counseling and testing, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, antiretroviral treatment, laboratory infrastructure, and basic care and support to people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. URC has trained hundreds of community volunteers in the country, resulting in thousands of patients referred for counseling and testing services.
URC works with the Uganda MoH to ensure the continued provision and sustainable scale-up of quality HIV/AIDS diagnosis, treatment, and care at regional and district hospitals throughout the country. Our work helps to improve clinic efficiency and outcomes for ART patients and to ensure quality care and treatment for HIV/AIDS patients at all levels. URC also builds capacity of health care managers to train their staff and improves laboratory support services.
Integrated and Innovative Approaches to Preventing and Treating
In many of the 22 countries that account for more than 80% of TB cases worldwide, URC is supporting anti-TB activities and national TB programs through integrated and innovative approaches that use QI to address systemic barriers to effective prevention and treatment, including patient-centered approaches to ensure patient retention in treatment. URC is a member of the Stop TB Partnership and supports interventions to scale up access to TB diagnostics and laboratories, improve programmatic management of drug-resistant TB, and build the capacity of health workers community groups to support adherence to TB treatment. Through the USAID-funded TB CARE II Project, URC and its partners support a number of global core studies and projects in various areas, including infection control, programmatic management of multi-drug resistant TB, and universal DOTS access.
Examples of URC’s work on TB in specific countries include:
In Bangladesh, URC collaborates directly with the National Tuberculosis Control Program (NTP) to reach national goals of reducing TB morbidity and mortality and increasing case detection and cure rates. Efforts are focused on community-based strategies to increase universal access to treatment, strengthening TB monitoring and evaluation, reducing the incidence of MDR-TB by supporting infection control measures and community-based treatment models, and strengthening management capacity at all levels. URC is also working to increase demand and availability of quality TB services at the local level through its nationwide local grants program.
URC in Georgia facilitates the implementation of strategies to improve case detection and to strengthen and expand TB treatment through the nationwide implementation of DOTS. URC also supports modest rehabilitation of TB clinics along with proving technical assistance to newly opened private treatment sites nationwide to improve infection control and patient morale .
In Malawi, URC through the TB CARE II project is working at the national level to strengthen the laboratory network, strengthen the NTP centrally, and pilot novel diagnostics. At the district level, the project is implementing a comprehensive set of interventions, including integration of antiretroviral therapy into the TB program, training community health workers in TB/HIV intervention, expanding the smear microscopy network, and upgrading infrastructure in selected facilities to accommodate increased HIV testing and counseling and ART for TB patients.
URC in South Africa focuses on providing assistance to strengthen TB care initiatives at the provincial, district, and community level, as well as strengthening the health system to manage the pressures exerted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Notable achievements include working with facility and community partners to expand the use of global information systems and other simple, low-cost technologies to improve treatment support and case detection in rural areas; introducing public education and social mobilization strategies especially using mass and local media; and training thousands of health care workers on infection control, TB/HIV integration, management of MDR-TB, and referrals and follow-up.
Scaling up Malaria Prevention and Treatment Programs
Reducing malaria transmission and malaria-related deaths requires comprehensive integrated programming. We employ a wide range of malaria prevention and control activities, including promotion of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets, intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy, improved case management using artemisinin combination therapy, supportive supervision of health care providers at the health facility and community levels, and improved procurement and logistics to ensure a reliable supply of high-quality drugs.
Through a partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, URC developed a job aid and training program to enable volunteer community health workers to use malaria rapid diagnostic tests, sparing patients trips to health facilities and long waits for diagnosis and treatment. URC is also a frontline partner in efforts to address and contain the emergence of drug-resistant malaria in Asia.
Examples of URC’s work on malaria in specific countries include:
Greater Mekong Sub-region
In Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma, URC works with country and regional stakeholders to improve the quality and diagnosis and treatment of malaria, including drug-resistant malaria, at the community and health facility levels. Priorities include developing and scaling up cost-effective vector control interventions to prevent malaria transmission; reducing management bottlenecks of National Malaria Control Program (NMCPs) and local institutions to implement and monitor malaria control activities; and supporting the establishment and maintenance of strategic information systems for malaria control.
URC is working with Ghana’s NMCP, NGOs, private sector, and other partners to strengthen malaria prevention and control and scale up successful malaria interventions. QI approaches are implemented to spread best practices in malaria prevention and control, which includes developing an effective system to distribute long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets (LLINs) and promote their use. URC is also helping to build the capacity of local NGOs to carry out participatory learning and action as well as community mobilization for malaria prevention and treatment.