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Functionality of technical working groups in enabling evidence-informed decision-making within Malawi's Ministry of Health: a cross-sectional qualitative study

Sakala, Melody, Chawani, Marlen Stacey, Kazanga-Chiumia, Isabel, Hara, Hleziwe, Abdullahi, Leila, Kambalame, Dzinkambani, Banda, Josephine, Mitambo, Collins, Terlouw, Anja ORCID: and Oronje, Rose (2023) 'Functionality of technical working groups in enabling evidence-informed decision-making within Malawi's Ministry of Health: a cross-sectional qualitative study'. Health Research Policy and Systems, Vol 21, Issue 1, e44.

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The roles and functionality of technical working groups (TWGs) in the health sectors vary across countries, still they aim to support government and ministries in formulating evidence-informed recommendations for policies and facilitate dialogue and alignment of activities among stakeholders within the health sector. Thus, TWGs have a role in enhancing the functionality and effectiveness of the health system structure. However, in Malawi, the functionality of TWGs and how they utilize research evidence to contribute to decision-making is not monitored. This study sought to understand the TWGs' performance and functionality in enabling evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM) in Malawi's health sector.

A cross-sectional descriptive qualitative study. Data were collected through interviews, documents review and observation of three TWG meetings. Qualitative data were analysed using a thematic approach. The WHO-UNICEF Joint Reporting Form (JRF) was used to guide the assessment of TWG functionality.

TWG functionality varied in the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Malawi. The reasons for those perceived to be functioning well included meeting frequently, diverse representation of members, and that their recommendations to MoH were usually considered when decisions were made. For the TWGs that were perceived as not functioning well, the main reasons included lack of funding, periodic meetings and discussions that needed to provide clear decisions on the actions to be taken. In addition, evidence was recognized as important in decision-making, and research was valued by decision-makers within the MoH. However, some of the TWGs lacked reliable mechanisms for generating, accessing and synthesizing research. They also needed more capacity to review and use the research to inform their decisions.

TWGs are highly valued and play a critical role in strengthening EIDM within the MoH. Our paper highlights the complexity and barriers of TWG functionality in supporting pathways for health policy-making in Malawi. These results have implications for EIDM in the health sector. This suggests that the MoH should actively develop reliable interventions and evidence tools, strengthen capacity-building and increase funding for EIDM.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > WA 20.5 Research (General)
WA Public Health > Health Administration and Organization > WA 525 General works
WA Public Health > Health Administration and Organization > WA 540 National and state health administration
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Programme (MLW)
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Pubrouter
Depositing User: JISC Pubrouter
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2023 10:58
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2023 10:58


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