Health Policy and Planning
Volume 31 Issue 6 July 2016
The emergence of the vertical birth in Ecuador: an analysis of agenda setting and policy windows for intercultural health
Ana Llamas and Susannah Mayhew
Health Policy Plan. (2016) 31 (6): 683-690 doi:10.1093/heapol/czv118
Maternal mortality continues to claim the lives of thousands of women in Latin America despite the availability of effective treatments to avert maternal death. In the past, efforts to acknowledge cultural diversity in birth practices had not been clearly integrated into policy. However, in Otavalo (Ecuador) a local hospital pioneered the implementation of the ‘Vertical Birth’—a practical manifestation of an intercultural health policy aimed at increasing indigenous women’s access to maternity care. Drawing on agenda-setting theory, this qualitative research explores how the vertical birth practice made it onto the local policy agenda and the processes that allowed actors to seize a window of opportunity allowing the vertical birth practice to emerge. Our results show that the processes that brought about the vertical birth practice took place over a prolonged period of time and resulted from the interplay between various factors. Firstly, a maternal health policy community involving indigenous actors played a key role in identifying maternal mortality as a policy problem, defining its causes and framing it as an indigenous rights issue. Secondly, previous initiatives to address maternal mortality provided a wealth of experience that gave these actors the knowledge and experience to formulate a feasible policy solution and consolidate support from powerful actors. Thirdly, the election of a new government that had incorporated the demands of the indigenous movement opened up a window of opportunity to push intercultural health policies such as the vertical birth. We conclude that the socioeconomic and political changes at both national and local level allowed the meaningful participation of indigenous actors that made a critical contribution to the emergence of the vertical birth practice. These findings can help us advance our knowledge of strategies to set the agenda for intercultural maternal health policy and inform future policy in similar settings. Our results also show that Kingdon’s model was useful in explaining how the VB practice emerged but also that it needs modifications when applied to low and middle income countries.
Feasibility and acceptability of delivering adolescent health interventions alongside HPV vaccination in Tanzania
Deborah Watson-Jones, Shelley Lees, Joseph Mwanga, Nyasule Neke, John Changalucha, Nathalie Broutet, Ibrahim Maduhu, Saidi Kapiga, Venkatraman Chandra-Mouli, Paul Bloem,
and David A Ross
Health Policy Plan. (2016) 31 (6): 691-699 doi:10.1093/heapol/czv119
Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination offers an opportunity to strengthen provision of adolescent health interventions (AHI). We explored the feasibility of integrating other AHI with HPV vaccination in Tanzania.
Methods: A desk review of 39 policy documents was preceded by a stakeholder meeting with 38 policy makers and partners. Eighteen key informant interviews (KIIs) with health and education policy makers and district officials were conducted to further explore perceptions of current programs, priorities and AHI that might be suitable for integration with HPV vaccination.
Results: Fourteen school health interventions (SHI) or AHI are currently being implemented by the Government of Tanzania. Most are delivered as vertical programmes. Coverage of current programs is not universal, and is limited by financial, human resource and logistic constraints. Limited community engagement, rumours, and lack of strategic advocacy has affected uptake of some interventions, e.g. tetanus toxoid (TT) immunization. Stakeholder and KI perceptions and opinions were limited by a lack of experience with integrated delivery and AHI that were outside an individual’s area of expertise and experience. Deworming and educational sessions including reproductive health education were the most frequently mentioned interventions that respondents considered suitable for integrated delivery with HPV vaccine.
Conclusions: Given programme constraints, limited experience with integrated delivery and concern about real or perceived side-effects being attributed to the vaccine, it will be very important to pilot-test integration of AHI/SHI with HPV vaccination. Selected interventions will need to be simple and quick to deliver since health workers are likely to face significant logistic and time constraints during vaccination visits.
BRICS countries and the global movement for universal health coverage
Fabrizio Tediosi, Aureliano Finch, Christina Procacci, Robert Marten, and Eduardo Missoni
Health Policy Plan. (2016) 31 (6): 717-728 doi:10.1093/heapol/czv122
This article explores BRICS’ engagement in the global movement for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the implications for global health governance. It is based on primary data collected from 43 key informant interviews, complemented by a review of BRICS’ global commitments supporting UHC. Interviews were conducted using a semi-structured questionnaire that included both closed- and open-ended questions. Question development was informed by insights from the literature on UHC, Cox’s framework for action, and Kingdon’s multiple-stream theory of policy formation. The closed questions were analysed with simple descriptive statistics and the open-ended questions using grounded theory approach. The analysis demonstrates that most BRICS countries implicitly supported the global movement for UHC, and that they share an active engagement in promoting UHC. However, only Brazil, China and to some extent South Africa, were recognized as proactively pushing UHC in the global agenda. In addition, despite some concerted actions, BRICS countries seem to act more as individual countries rather that as an allied group. These findings suggest that BRICS are unlikely to be a unified political block that will transform global health governance. Yet the documented involvement of BRICS in the global movement supporting UHC, and their focus on domestic challenges, shows that BRICS individually are increasingly influential players in global health. So if BRICS countries should probably not be portrayed as the centre of future political community that will transform global health governance, their individual involvement in global health, and their documented concerted actions, may give greater voice to low- and middle-income countries supporting the emergence of multiple centres of powers in global health.
Framing and the health policy process: a scoping review
Adam D Koon, Benjamin Hawkins, and Susannah H Mayhew
Health Policy Plan. (2016) 31 (6): 801-816 doi:10.1093/heapol/czv128
Framing research seeks to understand the forces that shape human behaviour in the policy process. It assumes that policy is a social construct and can be cast in a variety of ways to imply multiple legitimate value considerations. Frames provide the cognitive means of making sense of the social world, but discordance among them forms the basis of policy contestation. Framing, as both theory and method, has proven to generate considerable insight into the nature of policy debates in a variety of disciplines. Despite its salience for understanding health policy debates; however, little is known about the ways frames influence the health policy process. A scoping review using the Arksey and O’Malley framework was conducted. The literature on framing in the health sector was reviewed using nine health and social science databases. Articles were included that explicitly reported theory and methods used, data source(s), at least one frame, frame sponsor and evidence of a given frame’s effect on the health policy process. A total of 52 articles, from 1996 to 2014, and representing 12 countries, were identified. Much of the research came from the policy studies/political science literature (n = 17) and used a constructivist epistemology. The term ‘frame’ was used as a label to describe a variety of ideas, packaged as values, social problems, metaphors or arguments. Frames were characterized at various levels of abstraction ranging from general ideological orientations to specific policy positions. Most articles presented multiple frames and showed how actors advocated for them in a highly contested political process. Framing is increasingly an important, yet overlooked aspect of the policy process. Further analysis on frames, framing processes and frame conflict can help researchers and policymakers to understand opaque and highly charged policy issues, which may facilitate the resolution of protracted policy controversies.