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1.  Research translation to inform national health policies: learning from multiple perspectives in Uganda 
Background
Research and evidence can have an impact on policy and practice, resulting in positive outcomes. However, research translation is a complex, dynamic and non-linear process. Although universities in Africa play a major role in generating research evidence, their strategic approaches to influence health policies and decision making are weak. This study was conducted with the aim of understanding the process of translating research into policy in order to guide the strategic direction of Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) and similar institutions in their quest to influence health outcomes nationally and globally.
Methods
A case study approach using 30 in-depth interviews with stakeholders involved in two HIV prevention research project was purposively selected. The study sought to analyze the research-to-policy discourses for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and safe male circumcision (SMC). The analysis sought to identify entry points, strengths and challenges for research-to-policy processes by interviewing three major groups of stakeholders in Uganda – researchers (8), policy makers (12) and media practitioners (12).
Results
Among the factors that facilitated PMTCT policy uptake and continued implementation were: shared platforms for learning and decision making among stakeholders, implementation pilots to assess feasibility of intervention, the emerging of agencies to undertake operations research and the high visibility of policy benefits to child survival. In contrast, SMC policy processes were stalled for over two years after the findings of the Uganda study was made public. Among other factors, policy makers demanded additional research to assess implementation feasibility of SMC within ordinary health system context. High level leaders also publicly contested the SMC evidence and the underlying values and messages – a situation that reduced the coalition of policy champions.
Conclusions
This study shows that effective translation of PMTCT and SMC research results demanded a “360 degree” approach to assembling additional evidence to inform the implementation feasibility for these two HIV prevention interventions. MakCHS and similar institutions should prioritize implementation research to guide the policy processes about the feasibility of implementing new and effective innovations (e.g. PMTCT or SMC) at a large scale in contexts that may be different from the research environments.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S1-S13
PMCID: PMC3059472  PMID: 21411000
2.  The organization and implementation of community-based education programs for health worker training institutions in Uganda 
Background
Community-based education (CBE) is part of the training curriculum for most health workers in Uganda. Most programs have a stated purpose of strengthening clinical skills, medical knowledge, communication skills, community orientation of graduates, and encouragement of graduates to work in rural areas. This study was undertaken to assess the scope and nature of community-based education for various health worker cadres in Uganda.
Methods
Curricula and other materials on CBE programs in Uganda were reviewed to assess nature, purpose, intended outcomes and evaluation methods used by CBE programs. In-depth and key informant interviews were conducted with people involved in managing CBE in twenty-two selected training institutions, as well as stakeholders from the community, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, civil society organizations and local government. Visits were made to selected sites where CBE training was conducted to assess infrastructure and learning resources being provided.
Results
The CBE curriculum is implemented in the majority of health training institutions in Uganda. CBE is a core course in most health disciplines at various levels – certificate, diploma and degree and for a range of health professionals. The CBE curriculum is systematically planned and implemented with major similarities among institutions. Organization, delivery, managerial strategies, and evaluation methods are also largely similar. Strengths recognized included providing hands-on experience, knowledge and skills generation and the linking learners to the communities. Almost all CBE implementing institutions cited human resource, financial, and material constraints.
Conclusions
The CBE curriculum is a widely used instructional model in Uganda for providing trainee health workers with the knowledge and skills relevant to meet community needs. Strategies to improve curricula and implementation concerns need further development. It is still uncertain whether this approach is increasing the number graduates seeking careers in rural health service, one of the stated program goals, an outcome which requires further study.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S1-S4
PMCID: PMC3059476  PMID: 21411004
3.  Perception and valuations of community-based education and service by alumni at Makerere University College of Health Sciences 
Background
Training of health professionals can be deliberately structured to enhance rural recruitment by exposing the trainees to the realities of rural life and practice through Community-Based Education and Service (COBE) programs. Few studies have surveyed the alumni of these programs to establish their post-university views and whether the positive impact of COBE programs endures into the post-university life. This study surveyed the alumni of COBE at Makerere to obtain their perceptions of the management and administration of COBE and whether COBE had helped develop their confidence as health workers, competence in primary health care and willingness and ability to work in rural communities.
Objectives
• To assess the efficiency of the management and administration of COBES.
• To obtain the views of the impact of COBES on its alumni.
Methods
A mixed qualitative and quantitative study was conducted using focus group discussions (FGD) and a telephone administered questionnaire. From a total of 300 COBES alumni 150 were contacted. Twenty four Alumni (13 females and 11 males) were purposefully selected by discipline, gender and place of work, and invited for the focus group discussion. The discussions were transcribed and analyzed using a manifest content analysis table. The thematic issues from the FGDs were used to develop a structured questionnaire which was administered by telephone by the authors. The data were entered into Microsoft excel template and exported to Stata for analysis. The findings of the telephone survey were used to cross-match the views expressed during the focus group discussions.
Results
The alumni almost unanimously agree that the initial three years of COBES were very successful in terms of administration and coordination. COBES was credited for contributing to development of confidence as health workers, team work, communication skills, competence in primary health care and willingness to work in rural areas. The COBES alumni also identified various challenges associated with administration and coordination of COBES at Makerere.
Conclusions
This study has established that the positive impact of COBES endures with the alumni of the program. Health planners should take advantage of the impact of COBES and provide it with more support.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S1-S5
PMCID: PMC3059477  PMID: 21411005

Results 1-3 (3)