The Power of Policy Analysis

Lynda Keeru reports back on a webinar organized by the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research –  ‘The Power of Policy Analysis’.

Health policy analysis (HPA) is a critical approach to health policy and systems research (HPSR) that seeks to understand how health policies are formed and implemented. By gaining a better understanding of the forces involved in decision-making, HPA can offer insights into how policy change unfolds – including shedding light on why policies are designed and implemented as they are.

The webinar was an opportunity to launch a special issue of the International Journal for Health Policy and Management and to hear some of the key findings from the papers. The special issue brings together authors from low- and middle-income countries with representation from Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, India and the Philippines. Four of the papers reported empirical studies, three papers presented qualitative synthesis and one was a methodological reflection.

An addition to the knowledge base

All the papers addressed real world national level policy development and implementation issues from the focus countries. Some of the topics that they cover include child health in South Africa, Primary Care doctors in India, maternal health in Uganda and Indigenous people’s health in the Philippines.

They offer insight into the political and organizational factors that influence policy change within national settings and insights into power dynamics among actors and the institutional factors that influence those dynamics. A cross-cutting theme speaks to existing dynamics between top–down and bottom-up power flows which remains a critical challenge for health systems.  

The papers address an issue that generates a lot of interest – how evidence can influence policy. Unfortunately, there is often a disconnect between the knowledge generated in academia and the challenges that people are struggling with on the ground in practice. There is a need to strengthen capacity for this kind of analysis and to ensure that knowledge flows to people who are engaging with policy and practice on a daily basis. Innovative communication mechanisms are needed to this end – which makes this an interesting and engaging webinar for researchers and communication specialists alike.

Please do check out the webinar and the Special Issue.


The content presented in the webinar builds on the work of the Health Policy Analysis Fellowship supported by the Alliance and coordinated by the University of Cape Town.


Zubin Shroff, Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, WHO


Sudha Ramani, Health Policy Analysis Fellow

Moses Mukuru, Health Policy Analysis Fellow


Irene Agyepong, Dodowa Health Research Center and member of the Faculty of Public Health of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeon

Lucy Gilson, University of Cape Town

Mulenga Mukanu, Health Policy Analysis Fellow

M. Sivakami, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Eleanor Whyle, Health Policy Analysis Fellow