West African Network of Emerging Leaders (WANEL) in advancing the translation of health policy and system evidence into practice

2019-10-11 advocates blog inform learns
West African Network of Emerging Leaders (WANEL) in advancing the translation of health policy and system evidence into practice


What is WANEL?

The West African Network of Emerging Leaders in Health Policy & Systems (WANEL) is a network of young researchers and practitioners in Health Policy & Systems created in 2015 as part of the COMCAHPSS project funded by the International Development Research Center (IDRC). WANEL covers the fifteen countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its secretariat based in Accra, Ghana. WANEL detects and networks emerging leaders in health policy and systems to build a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral group of researchers and practitioners with technical and generic capabilities, a social and network and resources to enable them to have a transformative impact in the sub-region. To date, the network has more than 200 members in various disciplines such as sociology, journalism, medicine, communication, economics, anthropology, demography and are most of the early and mid-career. In each country, the network has two Country Coordinators who oversee the activities of the network, and two Thematic Working Group chairs (TWGs) who form with the Wanel Governance Committee, the Executive Board.

What does WANEL do in production and promotion for using evidence?

In the last three years (2017-2019), fourteen WANEL members have produced about 70 scientific papers on health policies and systems in West Africa. Many of them have been presented at various scientific conferences such as the Canadian Conference on Global Health, Dissemination & Implementation Conference, Global Health System Conference, Evidence 2018, Global Evidence Summit, AfHEA Scientific Conference.

The TWGs are functional units grouping several members on topics or specific topics. WANEL currently has four TWGs, including the Generating & Translating Evidence to Action. This TWG aims to promote the production of evidence and its use to improve health policies and systems in West Africa.

TWG used the opportunity of the 5th African Health Economic Association (AfHEA) Scientific Conference held in March 2019 in Accra, Ghana, to organize a session on participatory approaches to strengthen maternal and child health interventions. . The research results of three WANEL members were shared and served as a basis for discussion of the identification of research practice approaches in West Africa.

At the end of the exchanges, it seemed essential to find the most appropriate means to translate research results into policy and action. Taking the example of adolescents, it was proposed to carry out interventions at the level of families, communities, schools and social and cultural pressures. There is the need for awareness raising and advocacy on research findings, as well as the use of cultural considerations in presenting results. The skills needed to successfully transfer research results into action include advocacy, presentation of attractive and actionable ways of research results, collaboration with decision makers. A conceptual framework for knowledge transfer in policy and action is being developed for use in WANEL.

It should be noted that other TWGs also participate in the production and use of evidence. This is the case of the Supporting Health Systems Strengthening Initiatives, which conducted a study on health indicators of SDGs in Ghana and Burkina Faso on behalf of the NGO Agricultural and Rural Prospective Initiative (IPAR). These studies provided evidence on the health-related SDG indicator, as well as their availability for collection in these three countries.

What are the prospects for promoting the use of evidence in West Africa?

WANEL through its various TWG works to forge partnerships with governments, international agencies to contribute to the production and dissemination of studies of regional scale. To do this, a theory of change is being developed to guide strategies and interventions.

In other ongoing actions is the creation of a directory of WANEL members' productions and preparation for WANEL's massive participation at the next HSG conference.

By Ermel Johnson, Effua Usuf, Ejemai Eboreime, Jean-Paul Dossou

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