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Building policy leadership among HIV/AIDS health workers

April 21, 2016

Health workers need research, leadership, and policy skills to help create programs that respond effectively to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This innovative multi-country collaboration sought to strengthen HIV/AIDS health systems in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, the regions hardest hit by the pandemic, by building these skills among nurses and midwives.

This was accomplished by:

  • Improving the quality of HIV/AIDS nursing care

  • Supporting the scale-up of innovative HIV/AIDS programs and practices

  • Fostering engagement of researchers and research users in the policy development process

  • Providing a platform for developing research and leadership capacity among nurses and midwives

Using a participatory action approach, the project created “leadership hubs” that brought together frontline nurses and managers, researchers, decision-makers, and community representatives. These hubs helped forge communication links between frontline health workers and decision-makers.

Health workers improve health policies

Frontline workers have prolonged contact with patients and families, and frequently work across health-system sectors. They are well placed to help bridge the "know-do" gap and facilitate the uptake of evidence into policies. 

But studies suggest that health workers' knowledge and experience do not systematically inform policy decisions. Nurses' and midwives' contributions to policy development has been limited by a lack of research training, mentoring, and funds; limited experience with knowledge transfer; and few opportunities for dialogue with policymakers. This project confronted these challenges to help build capacity and bridge the gap between health workers and policymakers.

Universities in Kenya, Jamaica, South Africa and Canada, and Mulago Hospital in Uganda, collaborated on this initiative.

This project was part of the Teasdale-Corti Global Health Research Partnership Program. From 2005-2013, the Teasdale-Corti program supported 14 teams of researchers from Canada and LMICs. Teams developed, tested, and implemented innovative approaches for health and development. The Teasdale-Corti program was inspired by the remarkable work of Canadian surgeon Dr Lucille Teasdale and her husband, Italian pediatrician Dr Piero Corti. IDRC and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research co-funded the project.​

Learn more:

  • Read a journal article on the reliability of data collected by community health workers for policy and planning in Kenya

  • Read project summaries​ of the Teasdale-Corti Global Research Partnership Program (PDF, 275KB)