Major research and advocacy project in Pakistan celebrates achievements

Major research and advocacy project in Pakistan celebrates achievements

In January 2015, Dr Julia Hussein, Scientific Director of Immpact, attended the final public event in Islamabad marking the closure of RAF (Research and Advocacy Fund). RAF is a key component of the United Kingdom and Australian Governments' commitment to the Millennium Development Goals 4&5 in Pakistan.

RAF is managed by the British Council with its partners Immpact at the University of Aberdeen, Social Development Direct and RIZ Consulting. Set up in 2008, RAF funded research and advocacy projects to push for policy and practice change.

Over the last 6 years, 56 research and advocacy projects in 104 districts across Pakistan have been funded to the value of £18m. Immpact has played a key role in providing peer review, quality assurance, scientific input and capacity building for the development and implementation of these projects. The projects have had a significant impact on legislation, government policies, resource allocation and health worker training curricula, resulting in over 30 documented policy or practice changes in Pakistan.
The RAF closing conference brought together decision makers, researchers, advocates and implementing agencies to showcase exemplary experiences, facilitate dialogue and identify key issues for the future. RAF work has shown how sub-national estimates of maternal mortality can be successfully gathered to inform action in a decentralised and diverse country. It has provided new insights into how private-partnerships can be forged for better maternal, newborn and child health care and how financing mechanisms and incentivisation works in Pakistan. The quality of maternity care, family planning and post abortion services was also explored.

For the future, key issues identified as priorities included studies on the health workforce, especially the lady health workers and community midwives roles and workloads, scaling up of transport and referral, understanding how interventions like audit can improve accountability and exploring how successful advocacy can be replicated. More research and action is needed to solve the problems of poor nutrition and to identify and address disparities related to gender, wealth and geography. The promotion and investigation of rights to health was also emphasised. Despite these enduring challenges, RAF has given Pakistan a strong, robust foundation upon which to build a healthy future for women, children and their families.

For further information, see  www.rafpakistan.org

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