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Publications

Learning by doing in practice: a roundtable discussion about stakeholder engagement in implementation research

Future Health Systems

Arwal SH, AulakhBK, Bumba A and Siddula A (2017) Learning by doing in practice: a roundtable discussion about stakeholder engagement in implementation research, Health Research Policy and Systems, 15(Suppl 2):105, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-017-0275-8

Researchers and policy-makers alike increasingly recognise the importance of engaging diverse perspectives in implementation research. This roundtable discussion presents the experiences and perspectives of three decision-makers regarding the benefits and challenges of their engagement in implementation research.

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Participatory monitoring and evaluation approaches that influence decision-making: lessons from a maternal and newborn study in Eastern Uganda

Future Health Systems

Kananura RM, Ekirapa-Kiracho E, Paina L, Bumba A, Mulekwa G, Nakiganda-Busiku D, Oo HNL, Kiwanuka SN, George A and Peters DH (2017) Participatory monitoring and evaluation approaches that influence decision-making: lessons from a maternal and newborn study in Eastern Uganda, Health Research Policy and Systems, 15(Suppl 2):107, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-017-0274-9

The use of participatory monitoring and evaluation (M&E) approaches is important for guiding local decision-making, promoting the implementation of effective interventions and addressing emerging issues in the course of implementation. In this article, we explore how participatory M&E approaches helped to identify key design and implementation issues and how they influenced stakeholders’ decision-making in eastern Uganda.

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A participatory action research approach to strengthening health managers’ capacity at district level in Eastern Uganda

Future Health Systems

Tetui M, Coe A-B, Hurtig A-H, Bennett S, Kiwanuka SN, George A and Ekirapa Kiracho E (2017) A participatory action research approach to strengthening health managers’ capacity at district level in Eastern Uganda, Health Research Policy and Systems, 15(Suppl 2):110, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-017-0273-x

Many approaches to improving health managers’ capacity in poor countries, particularly those pursued by external agencies, employ non-participatory approaches and often seek to circumvent (rather than strengthen) weak public management structures. This limits opportunities for strengthening local health managers’ capacity, improving resource utilisation and enhancing service delivery. This study explored the contribution of a participatory action research approach to strengthening health managers’ capacity in Eastern Uganda.

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Using Theories of Change to inform implementation of health systems research and innovation: experiences of Future Health Systems consortium partners in Bangladesh, India and Uganda

Future Health Systems

Paina L, Wilkinson A, Tetui M, Ekirapa-Kiracho E, Barman D, Ahmed T, Mahmood SS, Bloom G, Knezovich J, George A and Bennett S (2017) Using Theories of Change to inform implementation of health systems research and innovation: experiences of Future Health Systems consortium partners in Bangladesh, India and Uganda, Health Research Policy and Systems, 15(Suppl 2):109, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-017-0272-y

The Theory of Change (ToC) is a management and evaluation tool supporting critical thinking in the design, implementation and evaluation of development programmes. We document the experience of Future Health Systems (FHS) Consortium research teams in Bangladesh, India and Uganda with using ToC. We seek to understand how and why ToCs were applied and to clarify how they facilitate the implementation of iterative intervention designs and stakeholder engagement in health systems research and strengthening.

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Engaging stakeholders: lessons from the use of participatory tools for improving maternal and child care health services

Future Health Systems

Ekirapa-Kiracho E, Ghaosh U, Brahmachari R and Paina L (2017) Engaging stakeholders: lessons from the use of participatory tools for improving maternal and child care health services, Health Research Policy and Systems, 15(Suppl 2):106, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-017-0271-z


Effective stakeholder engagement in research and implementation is important for improving the development and implementation of policies and programmes. A varied number of tools have been employed for stakeholder engagement. In this paper, we discuss two participatory methods for engaging with stakeholders – participatory social network analysis (PSNA) and participatory impact pathways analysis (PIPA). Based on our experience, we derive lessons about when and how to apply these tools.

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Strengthening scaling up through learning from implementation: comparing experiences from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Uganda

Future Health Systems

Bennett S, Mahmood SS, Edward A, Tetui M and Ekirapa-Kiracho E (2017) Strengthening scaling up through learning from implementation: comparing experiences from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Uganda, Health Research Policy and Systems, 15(Suppl 2):108, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-017-0270-0

Many effective innovations and interventions are never effectively scaled up. Implementation research (IR) has the promise of supporting scale-up through enabling rapid learning about the intervention and its fit with the context in which it is implemented. We integrate conceptual frameworks addressing different dimensions of scaling up (specifically, the attributes of the service or innovation being scaled, the actors involved, the context, and the scale-up strategy) and questions commonly addressed by IR (concerning acceptability, appropriateness, adoption, feasibility, fidelity to original design, implementation costs, coverage and sustainability) to explore how IR can support scale-up.

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Engaging stakeholders in implementation research: lessons from the Future Health Systems Research Programme experience

Future Health Systems

Peters DH, Bhuiya A and Ghaffar A (2017) Engaging stakeholders in implementation research: lessons from the Future Health Systems Research Programme experience, Health Research Policy and Systems, 15(Suppl 2):104, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-017-0269-6

Implementation research and the engagement of stakeholders in such research have become increasingly prominent in finding ways to design, conduct, expand and sustain effective and equitable health policies, programmes and related interventions. How to bring together key sets of health systems stakeholders, including affected communities, health workers, health system managers, health policy-makers and researchers, as well as non-state and non-health sector actors, is a critical challenge. Stakeholder engagement plays important roles across intersecting research, policy and management processes, from selecting and defining the most relevant research questions to address policy and management concerns, to designing and conducting research, learning from and applying evidence, making changes to policy and programmes, and holding each other accountable. The articles in this supplement examine some of the tools and approaches used to facilitate stakeholder engagement in implementation research, and describe learning from the experience of the Future Health Systems (FHS) Research Programme Consortium. 

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Implementation research and delivery science

Future Health Systems

In public health research, the focus has traditionally been on descriptive and analytic epidemiological research (“what”, “why”, “where,” and “who”). Less attention has been given, particularly in low-income countries, to “how” interventions do or do not work in the “real world”, given the involvement of different actors, the context in which implementation occurs, and the factors that influence implementation. Future Health Systems (FHS) has been at the forefront in the exploration, application and growth of implementation research (IR).

Global framework on people-centred and integrated health services

Future Health Systems

Future Health Systems research into empowering communities to demand and shape health services has informed the development of a WHO strategy on service delivery. The strategy reflects a paradigm shift towards an increased emphasis on preventive public health, as well as curative strategies, to address current and future health challenges.

Climate change: health effects and response in South Asia

Future Health Systems

Sen B, Dhimal M, Latheef AT and Ghosh U (2017) Climate change: health effects and response in South Asia, BMJ, 359, doi: 10.1136/bmj.j5117

The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change concluded that although climate change was the biggest public health threat of the 21st century, tackling it could be the greatest global health opportunity. All South Asian countries have ratified the Paris agreement, committing to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop systems to respond to the effects of climate change. However, climate change is not yet given priority in countries’ health agendas. The effect on the poorest and most vulnerable in society is also often neglected in the climate change discourse.

The authors examine the health effects of climate change in South Asian countries and current strategies to address these, and recommend an inclusive approach to climate change adaptation planning in the region.

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10 Best resources for community engagement in implementation research

Future Health Systems

Glandon D, Paina L, Alonge O, Peters DH and Bennett S (2017) 10 Best resources for community engagement in implementation research, Health Policy and Planning, Volume 32, Issue 10, 1457–1465, doi: 10.1093/heapol/czx123

Implementation research (IR) focuses on understanding how and why interventions produce their effects in a given context. This often requires engaging a broad array of stakeholders at multiple levels of the health system. Whereas a variety of tools and approaches exist to facilitate stakeholder engagement at the national or institutional level, there is a substantial gap in the IR literature about how best to do this at the local or community level. Similarly, although there is extensive guidance on community engagement within the context of clinical trials—for HIV/AIDS in particular—the same cannot be said for IR. We identified a total of 59 resources by using a combination of online searches of the peer-reviewed and grey literature, as well as crowd-sourcing through the Health Systems Global platform. The authors then completed two rounds of rating the resources to identify the ‘10 best’.

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Gender dynamics affecting maternal health and health care access and use in Uganda

Future Health Systems

Morgan R, Tetui M, Kananura RM Ekirapa-Kiracho E and George AS (2017) Gender dynamics affecting maternal health and health care access and use in Uganda, Health Policy and Planning, Volume 32, Issue supplement 5, pp z13 - v21, doi: 10.1093/heapol/czx011

Abstract

Despite its reduction over the last decade, the maternal mortality rate in Uganda remains high, due to in part a lack of access to maternal health care. In an effort to increase access to care, a quasi-experimental trial using vouchers was implemented in Eastern Uganda between 2009 and 2011. Findings from the trial reported a dramatic increase in pregnant women’s access to institutional delivery. Sustainability of such interventions, however, is an important challenge. While such interventions are able to successfully address immediate access barriers, such as lack of financial resources and transportation, they are reliant on external resources to sustain them and are not designed to address the underlying causes contributing to women’s lack of access, including those related to gender. In an effort to examine ways to sustain the intervention beyond external financial resources, project implementers conducted a follow-up qualitative study to explore the root causes of women’s lack of maternal health care access and utilization. Based on emergent findings, a gender analysis of the data was conducted to identify key gender dynamics affecting maternal health and maternal health care. This paper reports the key gender dynamics identified during the analysis, by detailing how gender power relations affect maternal health care access and utilization in relation to: access to resources; division of labour, including women’s workload during and after pregnancy and lack of male involvement at health facilities; social norms, including perceptions of women’s attitudes and behaviour during pregnancy, men’s attitudes towards fatherhood, attitudes towards domestic violence, and health worker attitudes and behaviour; and decision-making. It concludes by discussing the need for integrating gender into maternal health care interventions if they are to address the root causes of barriers to maternal health access and utilization and improve access to and use of maternal health care in the long term.

Building the field: ethics in health systems research

Future Health Systems

Members of the Future Health Systems (FHS) consortium have spearheaded important and previously unexplored work on the ethics of health systems research (HSR). FHS has contributed empirical knowledge on understanding how researchers are dealing with the ethics of HSR on the ground, as well as conceptual thinking, including exploring issues of justice, health capabilities, and responsiveness. The work has engaged new actors, built a movement of parties interested in the issues, and influenced the agendas of global institutions such as the World Health Organization.

Antimicrobial resistance and universal health coverage

Future Health Systems

Bloom G, Buckland Merrett G, Wilkinson A, Lin V and Paulin S (2017) Antimicrobial resistance and universal health coverage, BMJ Global Health, 2:e000518, doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2017-000518

The WHO launched a Global Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in 2015. World leaders in the G7, G20 and the UN General Assembly have declared AMR to be a global crisis. World leaders have also adopted universal health coverage (UHC) as a key target under the sustainable development goals. This paper argues that neither initiative is likely to succeed in isolation from the other and that the policy goals should be to both provide access to appropriate antimicrobial treatment and reduce the risk of the emergence and spread of resistance by taking a systems approach. 

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Experiences of using a participatory action research approach to strengthen district local capacity in Eastern Uganda

Future Health Systems

Tetui M, Coe A-B, Hurtig A-K, Ekirapa-Kiracho E and Kiwanuka SN (2017) Experiences of using a participatory action research approach to strengthen district local capacity in Eastern Uganda, Global Health Action, 10:sup4, 1346038, DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1346038

To achieve a sustained improvement in health outcomes, the way health interventions are designed and implemented is critical. A participatory action research approach is applauded for building local capacity such as health management. Thereby increasing the chances of sustaining health interventions. This study explored stakeholder experiences of using PAR to implement an intervention meant to strengthen the local district capacity.

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‘Nurture the sprouting bud; do not uproot it’. Using saving groups to save for maternal and newborn health: lessons from rural Eastern Uganda

Future Health Systems

Ekirapa-Kiracho E, Paina L, Kananura RM, Mutebi A, Jane P, Tumuhairwe J, Tetui M and Kiwanuka SN (2017) ‘Nurture the sprouting bud; do not uproot it’. Using saving groups to save for maternal and newborn health: lessons from rural Eastern Uganda, Global Health Action, 10:sup4, 1347311, DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1347311

Saving groups are increasingly being used to save in many developing countries. However, there is limited literature about how they can be exploited to improve maternal and newborn health. This paper describes saving practices, factors that encourage and constrain saving with saving groups, and lessons learnt while supporting communities to save through saving groups.

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Characteristics of community savings groups in rural Eastern Uganda: opportunities for improving access to maternal health services

Future Health Systems

Mutebi A, Kananura RM, Ekirapa-Kiracho E, Bua J, Kiwanuka SN, Nammazi G, Paina L and Tetui M (2017) Characteristics of community savings groups in rural Eastern Uganda: opportunities for improving access to maternal health services, Global Health Action, 10:sup4, 1347363, DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1347363

Rural populations in Uganda have limited access to formal financial Institutions, but a growing majority belong to saving groups. These saving groups could have the potential to improve household income and access to health services. This article aimed to understand organizational characteristics, benefits and challenges, of savings groups in rural Uganda.

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Working with community health workers to improve maternal and newborn health outcomes: implementation and scale-up lessons from eastern Uganda

Future Health Systems

Namazzi G, Okuga M, Tetui M, Kananura RM, Kakaire A, Namutamba S, Mutebi A,  Kiwanuka SN, Ekirapa-Kiracho E and Waiswa P (2017) Working with community health workers to improve maternal and newborn health outcomes: implementation and scale-up lessons from eastern Uganda, Global Health Action, 10:sup4, 1345495, DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1345495

Preventable maternal and newborn deaths can be averted through simple evidence-based interventions, such as the use of community health workers (CHWs), also known in Uganda as village health teams. However, the CHW strategy faces implementation challenges regarding training packages, supervision, and motivation. This paper explores knowledge levels of CHWs, describes the coverage of home visits, and shares lessons learnt from setting up and implementing the CHW strategy.

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Balancing the cost of leaving with the cost of living: drivers of long-term retention of health workers: an explorative study in three rural districts in Eastern Uganda

Future Health Systems

Kiwanuka SN, Akulume M, Tetui M, Kananura RM, Bua J and Ekirapa-Kiracho E (2017) Balancing the cost of leaving with the cost of living: drivers of long-term retention of health workers: an explorative study in three rural districts in Eastern Uganda, Global Health Action, 10:sup4, 1345494, DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1345494

Health worker retention in rural and underserved areas remains a persisting problem in many low and middle income countries, and this directly affects the quality of health services offered. This paper explores the drivers of long-term retention and describes health worker coping mechanisms in rural Uganda.

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Effect of support supervision on maternal and newborn health services and practices in Rural Eastern Uganda

Future Health Systems

Kisakye AN, Kananura RM, Ekirapa-Kiracho E, Bua J, Akulume M, Namazzi G and  Kiwanuka SN (2017) Effect of support supervision on maternal and newborn health services and practices in Rural Eastern Uganda, Global Health Action, 10:sup4, 1345496, DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1345496

Support supervision is one of the strategies used to check the quality of services provided at health facilities. From 2013 to 2015, Makerere University School of Public Health strengthened support supervision in the district of Kibuku, Kamuli and Pallisa in Eastern Uganda to improve the quality of maternal and newborn services. This article assesses quality improvements in maternal and newborn care services and practices during this period.

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