Monitoring equity and research policy

Do academic knowledge brokers exist? Using social network analysis to explore academic research-to-policy networks from six schools of public health in Kenya
Jessani N; Boulay M; Bennett S: Health Policy and Planning 31(5), 600-611, 2016

The potential for academic research institutions to facilitate knowledge exchange and influence evidence-informed decision-making has been gaining ground. Schools of public health (SPHs) may play a key knowledge brokering role—serving as agencies of and for development. Understanding academic-policymaker networks can facilitate the enhancement of links between policymakers and academic faculty at SPHs, as well as assist in identifying academic knowledge brokers (KBs). Using a census approach, the authors administered a sociometric survey to academic faculty across six SPHs in Kenya to construct academic-policymaker networks and identified academic KBs using social network analysis (SNA). Results indicate that each SPH commands a variety of unique as well as overlapping relationships with national ministries in Kenya. Of 124 full-time faculty, they identified 7 KBs in 4 of the 6 SPHs. KBs were also situated in a wide range along a 'connector/betweenness’ measure. The authors propose that SNA is a valuable tool for identifying academic-policymaker networks in Kenya. More efforts to conduct similar network studies would permit SPH leadership to identify existing linkages between faculty and policymakers, shared linkages with other SPHs and gaps so as to contribute to evidence-informed health policies.

From publish or perish to publish and perish: What ‘Africa’s 100 Best Books’ tell us about publishing Africa
Nyamnjoh F: Journal of Asian and African Studies 39(4), 2004

This paper draws on the African publishing industry initiative to determine ‘Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century’, to discuss writing, scholarship and publishing in and on Africa. It argues that it is not enough to publish or read about Africa, just as it is not enough to pass for an African writer or scholar. There is need to problematise what is published and read on Africa, and how sympathetic to Africa culturally, morally and scientifically authors and publications are. The author argues that it is not enough to simply assume Africanness from the fact that a publication is produced by an African, or that 'non-Africans’ cannot competently and positively articulate African causes in ways relevant to ordinary Africans, and poses challenge as one of how to promote commitment to African humanity and creativity without producing a simplistic reductionism or the inflation of belonging in Africa. The paper pursues these considerations, by focusing on how ‘Africans’ and ‘non-Africans’ alike have tended to represent Africa in publications. The author states "Often missing have been perspectives of the silent majorities deprived of the opportunity to tell their own stories their own ways or even to enrich defective accounts by
others of their own life experiences. Correcting this entails paying more attention to the popular epistemologies from which ordinary people draw on a daily basis".... "It also means encouraging ‘a meaningful dialogue’ between these epistemologies and ‘modern science’, both in its old and new forms, as a way of enhancing rather than simply trampling and crushing the past with modern creativity. For publishers to play a part in this rehabilitation, a deliberate effort must be made to privilege people over profit, and to do more than reproduce the rhetoric of equality of humanity and the celebration of creative diversity. So far, publishing Africa for most is much less an
ideological commitment than a commercial option...".

Pressure to publish is choking the academic profession
Vale P; Karataglidis S: The Conversation, 6 July 2016

The regime of publication pervades contemporary academic life across countries. The obligation that academic staff must publish is invariably presented as a virtuous thing. It is right and proper for academics to expand and extend the boundaries of their respective disciplines by publishing in outlets, as approved by their peers. Moreover, a public that is often sceptical of the usefulness of universities is often told that academics publish in “the public good”. But, the authors ask, if academic publishing is so significant in the profession, why is it that the young and talented in the academy increasingly resist it, calling it formulaic, at best, and, at worst, a sweatshop? And they ask, why is it that old academic hands are simply no longer interested in contributing to the peer-review system that is at the heart of the system and without which the standing of the entire industry will falter? For one thing, the authors argue, there is a dark side in the ceaseless pressure to publish. Funding agencies use publication records to distribute money or rank scholars and academic managers use the publication record as a means to manage people. For another, the current system privileges the journal over the book, which is argued to be damaging to the humanities. They argue for the need to recognise that “slow scholarship” is as important as it is necessary, and that deep research – especially, but not exclusively in the humanities – requires what strategic theorist Albert Wohlstetter once called a high thought to publication ratio. Research and publishing is the oxygen of academic life, but the authors suggest that the regimes of control that surround contemporary approaches to publishing are choking creativity and, with it, the profession itself.

Research Fairness Initiative Website
Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED): Geneva, 2016.

Hosted by COHRED, the Research Fairness Initiative aims to create a reporting system that encourages governments, business, organisations and funders to describe how they take measures to create trusting, lasting, transparent and effective partnerships in research and innovation. The RFI prioritises its application in global health because there are so many urgent health-related issues, but it can be applied to other settings as well. By providing a guide to high quality reporting on measures and conditions that promote fair research partnerships, the RFI encourages all stakeholders in research and innovation for health to describe what is done within their organisation to promote fair partnerships. Through an extensive global consultative process, the RFI have identified 17 key areas of relevance to effective and lasting partnerships. The RFI acknowledges that successful partnerships often start at personal level but are then continued at institutional or national levels. While mutual admiration, respect and friendship are essential to create the foundation of effective partnerships – it is the institutional and national dimensions of research collaboration that define how, ultimately, benefits are shared.

Adapting HIV patient and program monitoring tools for chronic non-communicable diseases in Ethiopia
Letebo M; Shiferaw F: Globalization and Health 12(26), June 2016

Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have become a huge public health concern in developing countries. Many resource-poor countries facing this growing epidemic, however, lack systems for an organised and comprehensive response to NCDs. Successfully responding to the problem requires a number of actions by the countries, including developing context-appropriate chronic care models and programs and standardisation of patient and program monitoring tools. In this cross-sectional qualitative study the authors assessed existing monitoring and evaluation tools used for NCD services in Ethiopia. Since HIV care and treatment program is the only large-scale chronic care program in the country, they explored the tools being used in the program and analysed how they might be adapted to support NCD services in the country. Document review and in-depth interviews were the main data collection methods used. The interviews were held with health workers and staff involved in data management purposively selected from four health facilities with high HIV and NCD patient load. Thematic analysis was employed to make sense of the data. The authors findings indicate the apparent lack of information systems for NCD services, including the absence of standardised patient and program monitoring tools to support the services. They identified several HIV care and treatment patient and program monitoring tools currently being used to facilitate intake process, enrolment, follow up, cohort monitoring, appointment keeping, analysis and reporting. Analysis of how each tool being used for HIV patient and program monitoring can be adapted for supporting NCD services is presented. Given the similarity between HIV care and treatment and NCD services and the huge investment already made to implement standardised tools for HIV care and treatment program, adaptation and use of HIV patient and program monitoring tools for NCD services can improve NCD response in Ethiopia through structuring services, standardising patient care and treatment, supporting evidence-based planning and providing information on effectiveness of interventions.

Metrics in Urban Health: Current Developments and Future Prospects
Prasad A; Gray C; Ross A; Kano M: Annual Review of Public Health 37, 113-133, 2016

The research community has shown increasing interest in developing and using metrics to determine the relationships between urban living and health. In particular, the authors have seen a recent exponential increase in efforts aiming to investigate and apply metrics for urban health, especially the health impacts of the social and built environments as well as air pollution. A greater recognition of the need to investigate the impacts and trends of health inequities is also evident through more recent literature. Data availability and accuracy have improved through new affordable technologies for mapping, geographic information systems and remote sensing. However, less research has been conducted in low- and middle-income countries where quality data are not always available, and capacity for analysing available data may be limited. For this increased interest in research and development of metrics to be meaningful, the best available evidence must be accessible to decision makers to improve health impacts through urban policies.

5th Annual East African Health and Scientific Conference and Exhibition Concludes in Kampala, Uganda
East African Community Headquarters, Kampala, Uganda, March 2015

The EAC Sectoral Council of Health Ministers Regional Health Sector Strategic Plan (2015-2020) is a roadmap for improving and strengthening of the regional health sector through implementation of the various approaches, interventions and innovation in the region. The 5th EAC Health and Scientific Conference contributes to and is a catalyst for strengthening regional cooperation in the health sector especially with regard to the improvement of health care service delivery and patient care outcomes. It is a platform for synthesizing, sharing and dissemination of research findings to inform policy makers, scientists and programmers on evidence-based decision-making and mobilization of political will and resources for the Health Sector.

Resilience in the SDGs: Developing an indicator for Target 1.5 that is fit for purpose
Bahadur A; Lovell E; Wilkinson E; Tanner T: Overseas Development Institute, 2015

The authors outline a comprehensive approach for developing a cross-sectoral, multi-dimensional and dynamic understanding of resilience. This underpins the message of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that development is multi-faceted and the achievement of many of the individual development goals is dependent on the accomplishment of other goals. It also acknowledges that shocks and stresses can reverse years of development gains and efforts to eradicate poverty by 2030. The authors argue that this approach to understanding resilience draws on data that countries will collect for the SDGs anyway and entails only a small additional burden.

Towards environmental justice success in mining resistances: An empirical investigation
Özkaynak B; Rodríguez-Labajos B; Aydın C: Environmental Justice Organisations, Liabilities and Trade (EJOLT) Report No. 14, 2015

This report explores evidence of success in environmental justice (EJ) activism on socio-environmental mining conflicts by applying a collaborative statistical approach, combining qualitative and quantitative methods. The empirical evidence covers 346 mining cases from around the world in the EJOLT Atlas of Environmental Justice, and is enriched by an interactive discussion of results with activists and experts. The authors used a social network analysis to study the nature of the relationships both among corporations involved in the mining activity, on the one hand, and among EJ organisations, on the other. Multivariate analysis methods were used to examine the defining factors in achieving EJ success and qualitative analysis, based on descriptive statistics, was conducted to investigate factors that configure the perception of success for EJ and incorporate activist knowledge into the theory of EJ. The authors argue that overall, such analytical exercises, coproduced with activists, should be seen as a source of engaged knowledge creation, which is increasingly being recognised as a pertinent method to inform scientific debate with policy implications, and that it can also be insightful and relevant for activism.

SDGs indicators: more about politics than statistics
Vandemoortele J: Deliver 2030, February 2016

In his book Damned Lies and Statistics (2001), Best points out that ‘people who bring statistics to our attention have reasons for doing so’. Some statistics are manufactured and manipulated as ammunition for political struggles, although their purpose is hidden behind assertions of objectivity and accuracy. The author argues that numbers often get amplified in the echo chamber of mainstream media and that one should never accept on face value that statistics always reveal truths. He argues that they are often used to manage perceptions more than to help analysis and understanding of complex realities. He thus urges people to be involved in reviewing and commenting on the work of and proposals from the UN Statistical Commission as they develop indicators for the SDGs.