Developing a research policy model for the South African local government health sector : a case study at the Ethekwini Municipality.
In South Africa there is an abundance of research studies available for policy development but few of the results have contributed to policy development, despite a seemingly-receptive new political environment. This highlights the need for a health research framework at local level, in order to guide the link between research and policies or programmes. Although a number of studies have been undertaken, the eThekwini Municipality does not seem to have a framework to facilitate a link between research studies, the policy - development process and implementation (service delivery). This results in policies or health programmes that are not informed by research, and as such, are often a waste of the resources of the above municipality. There is no evidence to indicate that research results have influenced the health policy, implementation or intervention process. The absence of an explicit health research agenda at eThekwini Municipality has meant that health research has not addressed health priorities or needs, nor have the available resources been channelled towards them. The study comes at an ideal time as the municipality is currently reviewing its approach to service delivery as well as finalising the planning process through integrated development planning (IDP), a legislative requirement in terms of the Municipal Systems Act. This study will help to create awareness in stakeholders regarding the lack of a link between research and policy processes. The arguments made in the study are that at the local sphere of government (the unit of analysis being eThekwini Municipality) there is no Health Research Policy Framework. This lack of a framework leads to ad hoc health research and the research results not being used. In addition, the health policies and programmes are not being informed by local research. The main argument is that there is an urgent need for the local sphere of government within the health sector to now develop and adopt a Health Research Policy Framework for linking research policy and implementation. The purpose of the study is to develop a Research Policy Framework for linking research, policy and implementation for the eThekwini Municipality. The objectives of the study are to analyse the existing health research policy framework, identify stakeholders in the health research policy processes, determine their role in the health research policy process, determine the conditions necessary for facilitating the linking of research to policy and to propose a research policy framework for the eThekwini Municipality. In order to attain the above-mentioned objectives of the study, a literature review, document review, a consultative workshop and semi-structured interviews were undertaken. After the data analysis was completed the following conclusions were drawn: there is a need for a health research policy framework, the knowledge base of some stakeholders is lacking, there is a lack of participation by key stakeholders in the health research policy processes, there is a lack of communication among key stakeholders and there is also a lack of use of health research results. A proposed health research policy framework is provided as part of the recommendations, as well as the processes to be followed in implementing the proposed framework.