How do we drive the use of evidence in public policymaking?: a case study from Fiji. — ASN Events

How do we drive the use of evidence in public policymaking?: a case study from Fiji. (#120)

Gade Waqa 1 , Helen Mavoa 2 , Sunia Soakai 3 , Ratish VP Singh 4 , Wendy Snowdon 1 2
  1. C-POND, College of Medicine Nursing & Health Sciences, Fiji National University, Suva, Fiji
  2. WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. Health Services Advisor, Suva, Fiji
  4. Ministry of Health, Suva, Fiji

Introduction: Multiple efforts are being undertaken globally to confront the public health challenge of overweight, obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Improving the capacity to develop and critique policy options through a robust evidence-based approach will contribute to better policy outcomes. TROPIC (Translational Research in Obesity Prevention in Communities) refined a knowledge brokering approach in Fiji that increased the development of evidence-informed policy briefs that had the potential to improve food and physical activity environments across four government sectors and two non-government organisations. TROPIC 2 built on this approach in order to meet the need for greater capacity for evidence-informed policymaking within the Fiji Ministry of Health (MoH).

Method: Knowledge brokers delivered a 4 month capacity-building programme to selected senior officials in seven key areas in the MoH. The programme comprised four phases: 1) a one week workshop targeting evidence-informed policymaking (EIPM) skills; 2) flexible mentoring to develop evidence-informed pre-determined policy briefs; 3) support in presenting policy briefs to higher level officers; and 4) a subsequent 2-day workshop to strengthen skills developed in phases two and three. Mentoring for participants included one-to-one meetings, email interactions and phone conversations.
Results: Ten of the 12 participants completed the program, each producing a policy brief that was presented to senior MoH officials. Policy topics included improving food and/or physical activity environments; systems within the MoH; and reproductive health care. One policy brief is already being used to develop a policy. Challenges to completing the project included lack of local evidence, insufficient resources for accessing and managing evidence and lack of dedicated time.

Conclusion: Skills in EIPM are relevant across issues within health and, importantly, in other sectors that influence health. A united approach to obesity includes the development of evidence-informed policies from a range of sectors.