What is a policy dialogue and how can it contribute to evidence-informed decision making?

5 May 2015

Although policy dialogues play a crucial role in the policy-making process, they are often understood and applied in different ways by different people. To address the lack of a comprehensive definition of the concept and how it operates the Alliance, jointly with the WHO Department of Health Systems Governance, Policy and Aid-Effectiveness developed a briefing note to review the literature on policy dialogues and experiences in using it in health, particularly in LMICs.

The briefing note defines a policy dialogue as an essential component of the policy and decision-making process, where it is intended to contribute to informing, developing or implementing a policy change following a round of evidence-based discussions, workshops, and consultations on a particular subject. It should be seen as an integrated part of the policy-making process, and can be conducted at any level of the health system where a problem is perceived and a decision, policy, plan or action needs to be made. Topics covered in the briefing note include:

  • What is policy dialogue
  • How can the policy dialogue contribute to improving policy and decision-making processes
  • Possible entry points for policy dialogue processes and the topics around which they can be organized
  • Best practices for developing the content and managing the process of policy dialogue
  • Role of the health system stewards in the policy dialogue process
  • Challenges

The briefing note is to be used by a wide range of audiences interested in public health and health systems strengthening, including country level implementers and decision-makers, WHO and UN agencies, funders, civil society, etc.