This paper reflects on experience from over two decades of EQUINET research practice to promote health equity in east and southern Africa. The paper was written by members of the EQUINET steering committee and the newsletter team. It draws examples and research features from EQUINET publications available online, a search of publications in the 221 issues of the EQUINET newsletter, and papers, reports, blogs, articles and editorials obtained from key word searches in Google. Despite policy commitments and gains in selected aspects of health, conditions in the region are increasingly driven by a global economy and a regional response that is generating instability, environmental and social costs; intense extraction of natural resources; rising levels of precarious labour, social deficits and weakened public institutions, disrupting social cohesion, solidarity and collective agency. These conditions call for certain features and forms of research. The paper describes diverse research on the costs to health equity of social deficits, inequitable resource outflows and the commodification of public services, as well as research on alternatives and policies on food security, health services, environment and rights that confront these trends. The paper describes specific features of research that respond more directly to the understanding that power relations are central to inequities in health. These research processes explain and show alternatives to disempowering narratives of the inevitability of the status quo and generate knowledge in ways that intend to empower those affected. They pay attention to who defines the research questions, who designs, implements and uses the research. This implies designs and methods that involve people in affirming and validating their realities, generating reflection on causes and building analysis, self-confidence and organisation to act and to learn from action. It presents specific examples of research approaches and the role of a consortium network in advancing them, while noting the ways in which many researchers face the double task of investigating inequities, while also challenging inequity in a global research system.
Equity in health, Monitoring equity and research to policy
Title of publication Research that supports health equity: Reflections and learning from EQUINET
Date of publication
EQUINET, Discussion paper 120, EQUINET Harare
equity; research; EQUINET
East and southern Africa region
Equinet Publication Type