Health research knowledge translation into policy in Zambia: policy makers and researchers’ perspectives.

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Malama, Annie
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The University of Zambia
Translation of public health research evidence into policy is critical to strengthening local health systems capacity to respond to eminent health challenges. However, limited public health research evidence generated in developing countries is translated into policy because of various factors. This study sought to explore the process of health research knowledge translation into policy through mapping of key actors, assessing the policy environment for knowledge translation, exploring the engagement between health researchers and policy makers, as well as identifying factors that shape the uptake of health research into policy in Zambia. This study was an exploratory qualitative research comprising two phases. Firstly, a document review of health policies and strategic frameworks was undertaken to understand the macro environment for knowledge translation. Secondly, key informant interviews with those responsible for health research and policy formulation were conducted. The study interviewed 15 key informants, and thematic analysis approach was used. The main actors in the process of knowledge translation include funders, health researchers and policy advocates, media, Ministry of Health and the community as beneficiaries. They are policy efforts to promote knowledge translation through improvement of the research environment, health research regulation and capacity building. However, coordination of the knowledge generation and policy making process remains a challenge because of inadequate research systems, as well as lack of research knowledge translation capacity. Engagement between policy makers and researchers comprised direct engagement and knowledge brokering. However, inadequate engagement, weak research infrastructure and financing systems are some of the barriers to knowledge translation. Emerging local research leadership and the existing stock of underutilized local research data were identified as enablers to knowledge translation into policy efforts in Zambia. Public health research knowledge translation into policy remains a challenge in Zambia. To enhance the uptake of research evidence in policy making, this study recommends the need for improved coordination, financing and capacity building in knowledge translation processes for both health researchers and policy makers.
Thesis of Master of Public Health - Health Policy and Management.