A key strategic element of the IMPACT Programme was our Partnerships & Impact Working Group. The Group’s purpose was to ensure that partners took a structured approach to engaging with key stakeholders and partners to enhance the outcomes of the Programme and ensure uptake of our research to positively impact on those suffering from the challenges of mental and physical multimorbidity’s.
This strategy for research uptake was threaded through activities, including capacity building to support partners understand the value of the approach. We had a 5-stage approach:
Defining key objectives was the initial stage of the strategy, ensuring they aligned with IMPACT’s overarching goal. These included:
- capacity building of stakeholders/policy makers
- capacity building of researchers to communicate to the policy makers
- generating interest from funders to encourage future high-quality research in LMIC’s
- integration of mental health into the health system at all levels and establishing ownership within Ministry of Health
The second and third stages were to map key stakeholders and identify channels of influence and engagement to enhance overall impact. Using the Alignment, Interest & Influence Matrix developed by the Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme at Overseas Development Institute,this stage provides a structured approach asking questions about each stakeholder, such as:
- Specific aim of engagement and the expected change
- Course of action to engage, level of time investment and effort compared to outcome
- Key messages and related channels of communication
- Challenges and risks
- Resources needed
- Person responsible for leading engagement
This mapping exercise enables the 4th and 5th stages to develop workplans for each stakeholder and to monitor and evaluate the overall approach and engagement.
Engaging with policymakers
The IMPACT team is currently involved in policy analysis. Our work that is of particular relevance includes:
- a review of the burden of co-existing CMD and NCD
- a situational analysis of health services addressing CMDs and NCDs in districts of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan
- a policy analysis tool relevant to mental and physical health policy in low- and middle-income countries which has been used to critically examine existing policies related to CMDs in Pakistan
The impact of this work will depend on the extent to which appropriate local and regional policies are developed and implemented. This requires bringing together key decision-makers from mental health and physical health and building their capacity to apply research to develop evidence based approaches to tackle this problem. There is also a need to enhance researchers’ capacity to understand development of policy and how to engage with decision-makers.
In 2020, we conducted two sets of workshops to engage with policymakers:
A two-day online workshop in August 2020 hosted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) with policy makers from IMPACT countries and countries part of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region. During the workshop the IMPACT team presented their policy work, and countries presented and discussed policies around NCDs and mental health and how they could be improved. For further details, please see the workshop report.
A workshop with policy makers, researchers and healthcare representatives in Pakistan to plan how to tackle issues around policy and multimorbidity.