This is the third in a series of three blogs discussing the Knowledge Translation Platforms (KTPs) in general, and the Kenya Health KTP in particular. The first blog analyses the model adopted by the Kenya Health KTP in the context of the evidence-base on KTPs. The second blog highlights lessons from existing KTPs in Africa for consideration in the establishment of the Kenya Health KTP.
The establishment of the Kenya KTP builds upon the gains of the recently concluded Strengthening Capacity to Use Research Evidence in Health Policy (SECURE Health) programme which aimed to enhance individual and institutional capacity for evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM) in Kenya’s health sector. The programme was implemented between 2013/14 and 2016/17 by a consortium led by AFIDEP in partnership with Kenya and Malawi’s Ministries of Health (MoH) and Parliaments, and other implementing partners. The programme’s baseline study revealed a range of barriers including: a lack of institutional leadership for EIDM; lack of incentives promoting EIDM in the MoH; limited access to relevant research and interaction between research producers and policymakers; poor packaging and communication of complex research findings; and inadequate skills in accessing, appraising, adapting, synthesising and applying research findings in policy and practice.
The SECURE Health programme was designed to address some of the identified barriers. A range of interventions were implemented including:
- high-level sensitisation meetings, development of EIDM guidelines and supporting the development of the health research agenda and establishment the Kenya Health KTP, which aimed to improve institutional leadership and support for EIDM;
- policy dialogues (branded as policy science cafÃ©s), which aimed to promote interaction between researchers and policymakers; and
- EIDM training workshops and mentorship, which aimed to improve knowledge and skills of MoH technical staff.
The programme’s evaluation revealed that training and mentorship resulted in improvements in knowledge and skills and motivation for EIDM among participants. Policy science cafÃ©s were positively received and led to a change in the financing approach in the Free Maternal Health Services policy. Sensitisation meetings resulted in allocation of funding to the Research and Development Unit at the MoH, which is mandated to coordinate health research in Kenya and promote its translation into policy and practice. However, the unit experienced challenges with accessing the allocated funds and, consequently, was unable to implement planned activities. In addition, while the MoH now had EIDM guidelines in place, there was no clear strategy in place to promote its use in the Ministry. Furthermore, by the end of the SECURE Health programme, the staff of the Research and Development unit had reduced from three to just one individual. The study concluded that despite the notable improvements in technical capacity for EIDM, the limited improvement in institution leadership and support threatened to reverse the gains so far. The study recommended that sustained long-term investments are needed to strengthen institutional capacity for EIDM.
In conclusion, the establishment of the Kenya Health KTP will enable the MoH to institutionalise the activities that were initiated by the SECURE Health programme and create an opportunity for the recommended sustained long-term investments needed to strengthen institutional capacity for EIDM.