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Influencing policy and practice, one dialogue, one poster, one engagement, one step at a time: More experiences from KTNET Africa.

Influencing policy and practice, one dialogue, one poster, one engagement, one step at a time:  More experiences from KTNET Africa.  

By Angela Kisakye

For the past three years, KTNET Africa has worked with researchers in eight African countries to bring researches, policy makers and key stakeholders on the same page. This has been achieved through various knowledge translation (KT) activities including; supporting dissemination workshops and working with researchers to package evidence into appropriate KT products for various stakeholders with varying degrees of success across countries. KTNET Africa is currently supporting another four research coalitions under the GHPHSR program who responded to its call to engage and carry out KT activities that are critical for achieving the use of their evidence.

Rwanda is one of the few African countries working towards eliminating Malaria. Therefore research evidence around malaria elimination is greatly valued by policy makers in Rwanda. In January 2017, the Malaria Elimination project for Ruhuha-Rwanda (MEPR) will conduct a policy dialogue with the aim of influencing policy makers to revisit the malaria policy in regards to vulnerable groups for malaria risk as a result of low usage of Long Lasting Insecticide Nets and propose tailored interventions for optimum outcome.

Burundi’s maternal mortality stands at 712 per 100000 live births and the fertility rate is 6.4 births per woman of reproductive age. In Burundi research partners whose research focuses on maternal health have recognized the value of engaging stakeholders involved in family planning with an aim of working towards harmonizing family planning messages. The policy dialogue will promote collaborations among different actors involved in family planning in order to put an end to the contradictory and negative messages spread about family planning   hence increase uptake of family planning methods.

In DRC maternal mortality stands at 730 deaths per 100,000 live births. The researchers doing work on social accountability for better maternal health have been supported to engage with the Ministry of Health officers in charge of Health systems Information and those working in community participation as well as stakeholders at national level to discuss the best way of involving communities in social accountability in order to improve client-health worker relationships and consequently uptake of maternal services. In addition to the policy dialogue, the DRC researchers are working towards sharing their research in appropriately packaged briefs for frontline health workers.

In Senegal, despite the available laboratory infrastructures and technology, less than one third of pregnant women receive the complete set of antenatal care (ANC) tests and only 20 per cent of pathologies detected are adequately managed. Barriers to ANC test uptake include unclear national guidelines and unawareness among health staff, wrong choice of technology for testing, high-test price, poorly organized health services, and lack of programmatic support. In addition, midwives rarely request that women receive (all) ANC tests. The researchers have worked with the information department at their MOH, the Directorate of Laboratories in Senegal, Foundation Merieux and KTNET Africa to produce recommendations for laboratory staff and midwives Posters from Socialab Senegal | Knowledge Translation Network (KTNet) Africa). These have been printed and will be distributed to intermediate health facilities in Senegal (around 100 facilities) to ensure that all midwives and laboratory personnel know how to improve access to maternal tests. The target audience will be midwives and laboratory staff.

Lastly researchers from the Ghana COHEiSION project, having already engaged decision makers at high level will be supported to engage district level stakeholders and the general public about the importance of health insurance in providing financial access to healthcare particularly for the poor and vulnerable groups in society. It is also expected that during the meeting, the communities will be given feedback about their role in the assessment of health care providers in order ensure quality of care.  It will also be an opportunity for all the stakeholders at the district level to discuss and agree on the way forward towards a client centered health insurance system in Ghana.

Influencing policy and practice is challenging but not impossible. It requires that change doesn't come in one day. Policy makers are busy and so are researchers but they all need to identify common and sustainable platforms to engage. It requires building partnerships and engaging beyond single disseminations. It requires packaging evidence into products that can be retained by key stakeholders. It requires sharing evidence at all levels of influence and it requires committed, engaged researchers or their champions be it media or identified research communication institutions in their countries (as is the case of Senegal and DRC). It requires objective driven engagements. Finally it requires a shift from the mindsets that “my research cannot possibly influence policy and practice” to a mindset of “what if, my research could influence policy and practice, what would I need to do?” Our partners have this “what if” mindset. They are demonstrating that they are willing to engage and their stakeholders are responding positively.

In other news, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO/WOTRO) launched its book sharing the impact and lessons learned from implementing the Global Health Policy and Health Systems Research (GHPHSR) in low and middle-income countries. The book also highlights experiences from KTNET Africa and what it takes to support knowledge translation, build networks and maintain collaborations.  

Interesting reads for health care managers and policy makers

Regulatory mechanisms for absenteeism in the health sector: a systematic review of strategies and their implementation, Kisakye et al identified regulatory mechanisms aimed at mitigating health care worker absenteeism, to describe where and how they have been implemented as well as their possible effects. The goal was to propose potential policy options for managing the problem of absenteeism among human resources for health in low- and middle-income countries.

Please follow this link for the full publication https://www.dovepress.com/articles.php?article_id=29913

A New volume on Child abuse in Uganda

Finally, I would like to bring to your attention a new volume from Springer Science. Follow this link (http://ktnetafrica.net/sites/default/files/Child%20Abuse.pdf) for the for the product flyer on Child abuse and neglect in Uganda. It is coming out in January 2017. It is particularly handy as a teaching resource with great examples, as evidence tool for policy and practice as well. Worth noting is that our own Dr. David Mafigiri the PI of the COHERE project, Uganda is one of the editors for this volume!

To see the funding opportunities are available for researchers follow this link http://ktnetafrica.net/resources/open-funding-opportunities

Would you like to contribute a blog?  Please send Angela Kisakye an email on akisakye@musph.ac.ug. The blog should be not more that 700 words and should include an appropriate picture.

I wish you a pleasant weekend.

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