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My experience with Knowledge Translation (KT) in DRC.

My experience with Knowledge Translation (KT) in DRC.

By Eric Mafuta, WOTRO IMCH DRC

Over the past months, we have enjoyed a series of blogs on the subject of Knowledge Translation (KT). In this blog, I would like to talk about my experience in KT, how I have learned about it and how I have done it in DRC.

Having evolved for several years in the field of public health in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). I used to share and gain knowledge mainly through scientific journal articles and conferences. However, I noticed that potential users of knowledge produced by researchers did not access primary documents. More often, they have only the policy documents used by the Ministry of Health. Furthermore, I was frustrated in several decisions taken at the level of the Ministry of Health. It seemed to me that decision makers from the Ministry of Health ignore almost everything of the research activities led in the country by Universities and other research organizations. Except for the evaluations of programs, which the Ministry of Health sponsors, it is very rare to find a reference in health policy documents related to a research study carried out in the country. Furthermore, several articles are published in the world on DRC and by Congolese researchers however the research findings risk not being used in many instances.

During a workshop with experts from KNET Africa, to support our research coalition on improving maternal health services through social accountability in DRC and in Burundi in 2014, the experts discussed with us about KT, the possibilities that we have to disseminate our research findings, channels to use and forms of packaging research findings in order to allow their use at various levels of the health system and in policy making.

During the workshop, we applied this knowledge and made a press release, which was submitted, in press journal and on TV. It was exciting!

When I returned to Kinshasa, I began by sharing the knowledge gained on KT with my colleagues from the Kinshasa school of public health. Most of them had the same idea and behaviour like me, believing that the most important is to publish in high impact journals and did not care about the use of the research evidence we produced and its importance for community benefits.  

Another exciting moment was during a meeting with academia where I distributed two pager policy briefs outlining findings from my doctoral research. My audience was very interested, because several people among them had not yet read my articles and that the policy briefs I provided helped them to learn from my research in a short time, compared to the journal article.

Another achievement was organizing a meeting about knowledge translation with the Ministry of Health Senior and mid-level officers. At the meeting, I contextualized the doctoral research programme and shared findings on which the audience gave feedback.  The meeting was captured by journalists and they broadcasted a reportage on it during National News”. Since then, I committed myself to using web based forums and communities of good practices to share findings of research carried out in Kinshasa School of Public Health and my own findings. The web based forum and the community of good practices gathered a lot of Ministry of Health officers and health partners. I made them aware about research findings and research studies carried out by my team and other team for DRC universities. 

I also shared findings of my research with community members and local stakeholders in villages where I carried out my research.  I was amazed at the reaction of interest which it aroused. Like one community member stated, "it is rare to find people who come and discuss with us their research findings... often, they come, we talk and they leave.  We have no idea about what they have as findings and what they said about us."

I collected during this dissemination activities at the local level multimedia elements such as audio, pictures and video with the consent of participants and I have summarized the process of disseminating research findings in a community and proposals community members provided for improving the situation based on their reflection on findings.

In June, 2016, I participated in a workshop organized by the Ministry of Health Division of community participation aiming at validating policy documents of community participation and every time I introduced myself, the reaction of people was: " It is you Eric Mafuta, I read many of the documents and policy briefs you sent through the forum. It is important what you did to keep us aware about research done in DRC. I appreciated your efforts and follows your reaction." These words are encouraging.  

It is with this commitment to KT that most of the evidence from my research project are currently incorporated in the national policy in particular the strengthening of the interface function of the health committee, the use of the community health workers for collecting and transmitting the voice of the population with regard to health services, the organization of the activities of community health workers and the implication of MCZ in their activity

I do not plan to stop here, I intend to spread the findings from my research in the form of video or radio elements. I do not know which are the efforts other researchers are making to make known their research findings and allow their use in the society. I shall be very interested to know your experience associated with Knowledge translation.

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