Strengthening Capacity for Evidence Use in Health Policy (SECURE Health)
The use of rigorous data and research evidence can help improve health outcomes and reduce the high disease burden in Africa by informing the formulation of robust policies and implementation plans, and the design of effective health interventions. However, utilisation of evidence in decision-making processes in the health sector is limited due to bottlenecks that operate at individual, system and institutional levels.
Focusing on the ‘demand-side’ of evidence uptake, the SECURE Health programme was set up to test interventions that have potential to address individual and organisational barriers to evidence use in the health sector. Not much is known on what works and what doesn’t in strengthening the capacity of policymakers and their institutions to use research evidence, and so the SECURE Health programme sought to generate important information to fill this knowledge gap.
The project had two objectives that it sought to achieve:
- Optimising institutional leadership and capacity to enhance evidence use, and
- Enhancing individual skills and capacity of policy-makers in the ministry of health and the legislature in accessing, appraising and using evidence
To achieve the first objective, some of the specific interventions involved, for example, engagements with leaders in the respective country ministries of health and parliaments, and evidence champions in order to strengthen their active roles in promoting evidence use in decision-making; supporting the development of a national health research agenda in Kenya, and the review of the impact of Malawi’s health research agenda; supporting the development of evidence-informed decision-making toolkits/guidelines for policymakers.
To achieve the second objective – enhancing the individual skills and capacities of policymakers – training workshops were held and follow-up support for mid-level policymakers on evidence-informed policymaking was done. Parliamentary staff were also placed in internships at the UK Parliament’s Office of Science and Technology (POST)
AFIDEP supported Kenya’s Ministry of Health to conceptualise and define a Knowledge Translation Platform (KTP), drawing on lessons of existing KTPs around Africa. With support from the WHO, AFIDEP, World Bank and other partners, the Ministry launched the Kenya Health and Research Observatory (KHRO), on January 22, 2020 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Developed Guidelines for policymakers in Kenya and Malawi Ministries of Health which were adopted for use by the governments.
The project developed an evidence-informed policy-making training (EIPM) course to respond to the challenge of weak capacity among decision-makers to find and use evidence in decision-making.
Other outputs (see related items) from this project included:
- a report of the baseline survey on the context and status of research use in policy formulation at the Ministry of Health in Kenya.
- An assessment of capacity needs for application of research evidence in decision-making in the health sector in Malawi
- a report on the status of evidence use in health policy formulation in Malawi, with results from three policy analysis case studies
- a report of the mid-term review of the performance of Malawi’s national Health Research Agenda
SECURE Health was implemented through a consortium of five institutions led by AFIDEP and in partnership with the Ministries of Health and the Parliaments of Kenya and Malawi. Consortium partners included: FHI 360, the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC), the Consortium for National Health Research (CNHR-Kenya), the College of Medicine at the University of Malawi, and UK’s Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).
SECURE Health was a three-year project funded under the Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence programme of the UK’s Department for International Development.
Read the project brochure here for Kenya and for Malawi.