Little is known about whether and how commitments by world-regions in the Global South are being implemented and what kinds of regional policy development processes are conducive to the emergence of embedded pro-poor approaches. This project examines the scope for enhancing Southern multilateral regional organisations' contributions to poverty reduction through regional health policy. What regional institutional practices and methods of regional policy formation are conducive to the emergence of embedded pro-poor health strategies? And what can national, regional and international partners do to promote such practices and methods?
We investigate this through a comparative analysis of SADC and UNASUR's regional agendas and ambitions, regional programmes of action and regional processes of policy development in relation to access to health care and medicines. The project uses mixed methods, comparative and participatory approaches and methodologies. Stakeholders from policy, practice and end-beneficiary communities are involved throughout the research process. Collaborative Participatory Action Research methods are used to design policy monitoring ‘Toolkits’.
The project seeks to contribute new analytical and evidence to debates about the role and effectiveness of regional formations in health-poverty reduction programmes and how international donors, civil society organisations, governments, business and philanthropic organisations can effectively support pro-poor regional health policies.
The project organisation and impact pathways are built on involvement from the outset of stakeholders in both regions and internationally. The impacts we expect to result from the research process as well as from the successful completion of the project are as follows. I. Regional Secretariats, Councils: involvement in knowledge-sharing activities and dissemination of research outputs will enhance awareness of the scope for improvements in regional health policy for poverty reduction and policy options; support for roll-out of 'Toolkits' to support support development of pro-poor regional health policy; II. Health policy makers and practitioners: better understanding of the potential synergies between regional health initiatives, policy development practices and poverty reduction, and of policy methodologies supportive of access to health care and medicines allied to a poverty reduction strategy; identification of options and opportunities for pro-poor regional and national health policy; III. Health service users and representatives of poor populations: identification of access to and leverage opportunities in regional policy making in order to hold policymakers to account to improve inclusivity of health care; IV. International policymakers, donors, NGOs: awareness of the potential synergy between regional health governance and poverty reduction, and scope for development policy and funding to support pro-poor health systems; advocacy of regional health policy indicators. Features of the project organisation and methods for achieving impact are: the project Advisory Group, drawn from diverse user groups in both regions, and including Champions to roll-out the project of empowerment; monitoring Toolkits co-developed with stakeholders and for use by all actors; stakeholder workshops co-designed and delivered by the project team and stakeholders; project publications (Information briefs about the project's findings and activities; Policy Briefs on contexts, drivers, levers and options for regional and national policy making; analytical and policy-facing Working Papers, conference papers and scientific peer-reviewed publications for academic and non-academic audiences), briefing meetings, presentations and contributions to regional and global initiatives. We will use face-to-face methods of engagement, as well as ICTs (website, e-lists, social media). Project members have successfully worked together and with multilateral organisations, governments, practitioners, and NGOs. We combinate excellence in the academic research process and access to networks of user groups including policy makers in both regions and internationally. Training and capacity building includes provision for strengthening project members' skills to research and analyse the regionalism-poverty-health-policy nexus through workshops, mentoring, supervision and interaction throughout the project among the researchers. Research Fellows will take lead roles in project events, writing, analysis and dissemination activities alongside the Investigators with appropriate support and supervision. Involving all the team and stakeholders through the Advisory Group in taking leadership roles in the design and delivery of project workshops will substantially support mutual learning (among junior and senior colleagues, and across academic practitioner-policy maker boundaries) from the project and project impact. (see the Pathway to Impact) Any peer-reviewed publications arising from this grant will be registered on the Open University's open access institutional repository (Open Research Online (ORO) http://oro.open.ac.uk). ORO is one of the largest repositories in the UK. The site receives an average of 40,000 visitors per month from over 200 different countries and territories and has received over 2.5 million visitors since 2006. It enables access to research outputs via common search engines including Google.