Communicating health research (31) Introduction: Ben Angoa, Solomon Islands (2) Communicating research on sensitive issues

13 September, 2022

Dear Ben,

Thank you for your self-introduction and welcome to HIFA!

I would be very interested to learn about your experience of communicating health research to policymakers, particularly about contraception and abortion, and especially in Solomon Islands where there are profound legal restrictions on abortion. How can evidence be made available to, and understood by, policymakers in situations where the evidence does not fit with their 'world view' or with the current legal situation?

(Note to Ben: If you prefer not to say anything for whatever reason, please do not feel obliged to do so. In this case I open this important question for other HIFA members to explore.)

I note that 'a cross-sectional study of 1441 women in the Solomon Islands reported that one in six pregnant women (16.95) did not know any modern contraceptive methods'

Also, a paper published in July 2022 looks at health worker perceptions in the Solomon Isalands, and 'affirms health workers as a key resource in addressing the unmet need for contraception in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, and calls for programme and policy solutions informed by their perspectives. The two main priorities they emphasised to help tackle the persistent problem of unmet need for contraception are an increase in their capability to provide contraceptive implants, and an increase in community education to boost acceptance of family planning care from women and their families'.

Research communication is complicated by Solomon Islands' legal status on abortion. From Wikipedia: 'Abortion in the Solomon Islands is only legal if the abortion will save the mother's life. In Solomon Islands, if an abortion is performed on a woman for any other reason, the violator is subject to a life sentence in prison. A woman who performs a self-induced abortion may also be imprisoned for life.'

Best wishes, Neil

Joint Coordinator, HIFA Communicating health research

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Global Coordinator HIFA, Working in official relations with WHO