Intersectoral debate on social research strengthens alliances, advocacy and action for maternal survival in zambia
Mulenga, M. M.
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Manandhar, M. Maimbolwa, M.; Muulu, E.; Mulenga, M. M.; O'Donovan, D. (2008). Intersectoral debate on social research strengthens alliances, advocacy and action for maternal survival in zambia. Health Promotion International 24 (1), 58-67
The Health Promotion Research Centre of the National University of Ireland, Galway and the University of Zambia's School of Medicine conducted operational research to understand and address the socio-cultural and gender contexts of maternal survival. Together with an analytical policy and programming review and qualitative research, the project process also involved the convening of 'Interest Group' meetings involving intersectoral stakeholders at Central (Lusaka) and Provincial (Kasama) levels. These meetings aimed to catalyse debate and stimulate advocacy on the project theme by using discussion of qualitative research as entry point. Participants came from government departments, civil society groups, the indigenous health system, academia, technical provider associations, and media, advocacy and human rights organisations. We found that engagement in Interest Groups was successful at Provincial level with lively participation from civil society, media and advocacy stakeholders and strong engagement by the health system. The process was welcomed as an opportunity to fill gaps in understanding about underlying social determinants of health and jointly explore intervention approaches. Overburdened government staff at central level faced with disease-focused interventions rather than underlying contextual determinants, and a weak culture of health sector engagement with civil society, academics and activists, contributed to less successful functioning in Lusaka. Final Dissemination and Discussion Events incorporated material from Interest Group Meetings to stimulate wider discussion and make recommendations. This project highlights the potential value of intersectoral stakeholder discussions from the inception stage of research to stimulate intersectoral exchange and alliance building, inform advocacy, and catalyse the process of research into action.