In order to have sustained evidence-based decision making in Africa, it is critical to optimise the capacity strengthening of researchers, advocates, and policymakers in translating and using research and related forms of evidence.
AFIDEP strengthens skills of researchers in conducting systematic reviews and synthesis of evidence, policy analysis, scenario building and forecasting, and effective communication.
The Institute conducted systematic reviews from multiple sources in order to strengthen individual findings and make a case for different facets of care, a recent example is work with the INDEPTH network studies on malaria since the networks inception in 1998 to 2009.
AFIDEP also works with advocates and end-users of evidence to optimize their capacity in accessing and synthesising quality research from various sources and making use of this information.
The Institute’s capacity building programme employs a range of strategies including fellowships, internships, knowledge transfer during collaboration, provision of technical assistance, and technical training workshops, often in partnership with other training institutions and research organisations.
AFIDEP also conducts key informant interviews to gain insights in policy development process and use such opportunities to identify knowledge gaps that the institute can fill.
Research to policy is a complex, non-linear process. AFIDEP not only considers the windows of opportunity for policy change on a broad scale, but also seeks to understand the needs and wants of individual policymakers.
In this light, it’s imperative that research evidence be context-relevant, practical, and action-oriented research that answers questions on how to improve different aspects of health care, e.g. improving equitable access through subsidy vouchers (justification of use of limited resources).
Furthermore, understanding the terrain that policymakers usually work under; time pressures, relatively short tenures to make tangible improvements in health care, and resource-limited environs, makes it easier to supply them with knowledge that works for them in their specific area of need, timelines and that are cost effective.