Collaborating Institutions: University of Aberdeen, Mpumalanga Province Department of Health, University of the Witwatersrand and Queen Margaret University. PI:Dr Lucia D’Ambruoso
Health systems are the products of human relationships: between patients and health workers, managers and policy makers, communities and governments. As a whole, these establish norms of who is eligible for care and what can be expected from the health system. In settings, where services are weak and under-funded, care that is unaffordable and unavailable can become socially normal. Communities have substantial knowledge about these interactions and norms, and health workers have considerable power over how health policy is ‘brought alive’ through them. The inputs of health workers and communities however are often overlooked in policy and planning. The project aims to strengthen systems to record and report deaths, institutionalise processes to develop the voices of communities on health priorities, and act on this information in partnership with health workers, managers, planners and policy makers. The process will collect data, analyse, plan and act, and demonstrate ability to bring about change. Providing practical research that is easily understood and ‘owned’ by end users in a process that encourages action will strengthen relationships between patients, health workers and policy makers to support and sustain positive change. The research builds on development work improving health information for poor and rural groups in South Africa. To date, the work has been done with the MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit in South Africa and with the provincial health authority to consider what the data are telling us, and how changes can be implemented to respond to the issues identified.