The paper seeks to report on research-evidence-based health policy formulation in Malawi based on interviews with policymakers and questionnaire administered to health researchers.
Quantitative data for inferential statistical analysis was obtained through a questionnaire administered to researchers in the University of Malawi's College of Medicine and the Kamuzu College of Nursing. Interviews were conducted with four directors holding decision-making national health policy roles in the Ministry of Health and the National Assembly. The five national policymakers interviewed constituted five of the nine interviewees. The remaining four interviewed represented other government agencies and non-governmental organisations in the health sector. These constituted a piloted group of health policymakers in Malawi. Data from interviews shows illustrative comments typical of consistent perspectives among interviewees. Where they disagreed, divergent views have been presented.
The survey has revealed that health researchers rarely interact with health policymakers. Policymakers rarely attend researchers' workshops, seminars and conferences. Researchers prefer to interact with policymakers through expert committees or technical working groups. However, the meetings are called by policymakers at their own will. In terms of health research designed for user relevance, survey respondents suggested that developing research products; formulating study objectives; analysing and interpreting research findings and; developing research designs and methods were their responsibility. However, policymakers felt that research evidence should appeal to specific priorities needed by health policymakers in policy formulation. Health researchers suggested that health research evidence should be communicated through syntheses of the research literature and reprints of articles published in scientific journals. However, policymakers were of the view that research products should not be bulky, should be presented in points form and should provide options for specific policy areas.
University research groups and technical working groups provide an opportunity for interacting and enhancing the use of health research evidence.
For the purposes of facilitating the use of research evidence into policy, the study provides a low-cost framework for linking research groups and technical working groups to inform health research utilisation.
The researcher wishes to acknowledge funding support from the University of Cape Town Incoming International Student Award.
Mapulanga, P., Raju, J. and Matingwina, T. (2020), "Research-evidence-based health policy formulation in Malawi: An assessment of policymakers’ and researchers’ perspectives", International Journal of Health Governance, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJHG-05-2019-0029Download as .RIS
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