Due to time constraints and competing priorities, researchers and policymakers often fail to effectively communicate and share knowledge with each other. The chasm created between these key stakeholders means that lifesaving health care solutions aren’t implemented as quickly as they should be.
Since 2012, Dignitas International has been working to bridge this gap with Malawi’s first Knowledge Translation Platform (KTPMalawi). KTPMalawi aims to translate lifesaving research into quality health policy and practical improvements in health care. This platform brings together a variety of professionals – health care providers, researchers and policymakers – from across the country and internationally. With ongoing training and routine dialogue, it is expected that research evidence will translate into sound health care decisions.
Dr. Collins Mitambo heads up the Knowledge Translation section at the Ministry of Health and is working closely with Dignitas to build KTPMalawi.
“Medical research has existed in the country for decades. However, much of this research fails to reach policymakers. Conversely, some health policies have been developed without evidence acquired through research,” says Collins.
Collins describes knowledge translation as a “dynamic and iterative process” and is enthusiastic about bridging the communication and information gap that currently exists. His hope is that KTPMalawi changes how researchers, health care providers and policymakers work together.
“The initiative is an important one because it will enable the Ministry of Health to make evidence-based policies. At the same time, researchers will be able to formulate research questions that are relevant to addressing the challenges on the ground,” says Collins.
Together, KTPMalawi stakeholders have selected two key focus areas with great potential to improve patient outcomes and the calibre of health care in Malawi: non-communicable diseases and supply chain management. Participants are now developing concrete policy recommendations that will build a stronger health system and ultimately improve patient health.