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Research vital for health policy formulation

MOST organisations that promote health issues fail to influence government policy because their recommendations to policy-makers are not research-based facts, health experts have said.

Report by Caiphas Chimhete
They said organisations should invest more into research to enable them to influence good policies and improve the health delivery system in the country.

Speaking on the sidelines of a training workshop on Fundamentals of Strengthening Implementation Science Research for Gender Programmes in Zimbabwe recently, Research Triangle Institute International (RTI) director Fortunate Machingura said most organisations depended on research done in other countries.

Machingura said in most cases such research would not suit the Zimbabwean context rendering it useless to influence government policy. She added that in some cases organisations used outdated research information that distorted the real situation on the ground.

“They use research conducted by other organisations, in most cases a foreign organisations, but the Zimbabwean context is different,” said Machingura. “There is the one shoe size fits all tendency, but what worked in Uganda will not necessarily work here.”

Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director, Itai Rusike said space to influence policy was abundant in the country but organisations often tried to do so without research-based facts.

“Parliament has created a platform for us to influence policy through our contributions to pre-budget and post-budget meetings,” said Rusike. “But in such meetings, we have to present research-based facts and not just shout without facts.”

He said the utilisation of health research in making policy should eventually lead to improved health systems even at grassroots level.

RTI and CWGH, through the Gender Challenge Initiative (GCI), are working to strengthen capacities of local organisations to conduct implementation science to support an evidence-based policy, planning and gender programming.

The initiative aims to improve the uptake, implementation, and translation of research findings to practices that lead to equitable access to services and livelihoods, gender equity as well as people centred health systems and policies in the country.

The GCI, administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Centres for Disease Control (CDC) recently trained several programme officers from different organisations on research and evaluation.

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