Global Evidence, Local Adaptation: Integrated Knowledge Translation strategies to enhance evidence-informed newborn and child health guidelines in three African countries
2Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Malawi
3Cochrane Nigeria, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Nigeria
4Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, South Africa
5School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape & Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, South Africa
Background: The Global Evidence, Local Adaptation (GELA) project aims to maximise the impact of research on poverty-related diseases by increasing researchers’ and decision-makers’ capacity to use global research to develop locally relevant guidelines for newborn and child health in Malawi, Nigeria and South Africa. To facilitate collaboration with stakeholders, we adopted an integrated knowledge translation (IKT) strategy within GELA—systematically mapping and engaging decision-makers and stakeholders and ensuring ongoing communication and dissemination. Given limited research on IKT in African settings, we documented our team’s IKT capacity, skills and process for developing and implementing IKT in these countries.
Methods: Six IKT champions and a coordinator formed the GELA IKT Working Group. We gathered information on our baseline IKT competencies and processes within GELA, and opportunities, challenges and lessons learnt, from April 2022 to March 2023 (Year 1). We held (1) five 2-hour Working Group meetings during Year 1 (slides and video recordings); (2) developed process documents (flowcharts and templates); and (3) recorded our experiences with developing and implementing the country-specific IKT strategies.
Results: Figure 1 outlines the process followed to develop and implement country-specific IKT strategies. All KT champions have similar training in evidence-informed decision-making, but their training in IKT varied. KT champions felt it was challenging to carry out a comprehensive mapping of stakeholders, determine stakeholders’ level of interest and influence on GELA using the power-interest matrix, and identify realistic indicators for monitoring the country-specific strategies. Champions drew on existing relationships with national Ministries of Health and other stakeholders within their respective countries to identify new and relevant stakeholders. Implementation of initial stakeholder engagement activities required heterogeneous and iterative approaches to achieve similar KT goals.
Conclusions: Our experiences of adopting an IKT approach within GELA can help colleagues in similar African settings intentionally and systematically plan for IKT, as well as communication and dissemination of project outcomes. The flexible and evolving nature of IKT can help champions and researchers tailor activities and processes according to stakeholder needs and preferences in their context. There is a need for further research on indicators for monitoring and evaluating IKT.