An institutional mechanism, the Regional East African Community Health (REACH), has been created on the initiative of various stakeholders in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. These stakeholders include policy makers, researchers from universities and civil society who were interested in the idea of having a knowledge broker. REACH therefore bridges the gap between health research and policy and decision making. REACH is housed within the East African Community, Health Research Council in Arusha and supports a node in each country.
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda share a common burden; they carry the highest preventable burdens of ill health in the world. This disease burden can be reduced as well as prevented with existing knowledge and interventions.
REACH is also supported by the International Development Research Centre in Canada as well as the Swiss Tropical Institute.
The Alliance HPSR, as part of its mandate to promote evidence-informed policy making in developing countries intends to provide support to the REACH Initiative for a period of three years. The support is intended to evaluate prospectively the strategies employed by REACH to learn which strategies work best in promoting evidence-informed policy making. It will focus first on decision making around health policy and health systems issues. To achieve this, the Alliance has first offered a small initial grant to REACH to support them in the preparatory activities leading to the development of a full grant proposal. The objectives of the grant agreement are the following:
- to identify in each of the three countries priority policy question likely to be included in the policy agenda in the next two years which could be informed through the application of research evidence;
- to identify and plan activities that can facilitate linking evidence to policy at the country level and the development of country specific work plans.
The Alliance has just signed the initial grant and activities are currently starting in the three countries with the delivery of policy priority issues which will be discussed in country and regional workshops.