SUPPORT-SYSTEMS - How can decision-making processes for health systems strengthening and universal health coverage be made more inclusive, responsive and accountable?



This 4-year HIFA Project (2022-5) explores the question ‘How can decision-making processes for health systems strengthening and universal health coverage be made more inclusive, responsive and accountable?’ We focus on the extent to which actively involving civil society voices and other stakeholders can humanise decision-making processes for UHC and promote equity. Our project is situated within the discourses around complex policymaking processes for health systems, informing these processes with evidence, and fostering civil society’s agency and participation within these processes. 

The HIFA Project is part of a major research collaboration Supporting inclusive and accountable health systems decisions in Ghana and Kenya for universal health coverage (SUPPORT-SYSTEMS) between the University of Ghana, the Kenyan Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), the University of Oslo, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and HIFA. HIFA was invited to contribute because of our unique approach to knowledge exchange (see HIFA Projects).


“Involving key users of knowledge in research projects is crucial for ensuring the research is responsive to their needs and has a meaningful impact. However, accessing different groups of users is often challenging. HIFA has been a dynamic platform for building relationships with individuals from diverse professional backgrounds and roles within health systems worldwide, enabling the collection of insights that would have otherwise been difficult to obtain. The HIFA discussion forum has been especially valuable, enabling the research project to explore concepts and assumptions, and to understand how the research questions resonate with on-the-ground realities through the insights of individuals with relevant experiences. I highly recommend partnering with HIFA for research collaborations and will definitely do so again for future research proposals.” Unni Gopinathan, Principal Investigator, SUPPORT-SYSTEMS, June 2024



In May/June 2022 we hosted a thematic discussion on the HIFA forums around the following questions:

  1. What does civil society participation in health policy mean and why is it important to have civil society participation in health policy processes?
  2. Have you ever participated, either through a civil society organization or as an individual, in health policy processes at a national or sub-national level? What was your experience?
  3. Can you share examples of the role of CSOs in policymaking at national or sub-national levels?
  4. What do you think are the different types of evidence that civil society can provide, that otherwise would not be considered? What are the main drivers and barriers to uptake and use of such evidence?
  5. From your perspective, what are promising practices for creating greater space for civil society participation in health policy processes and for using evidence from civil society more effectively to improve health policymaking for UHC at national and global level?

Using evidence from civil society in national and subnational health policy processes: a qualitative evidence synthesis
Unni Gopinathan, Elizabeth Peacocke, Daniel Nana Yaw Abankwah, Genevieve C Aryeetey, Claire Glenton, Peninah N Khisa, Augustina Koduah, Ravi Ram, Justice Nonvignon, Jacinta Nzinga, Doris Ottie-Boakye, Neil M Pakenham-Walsh, Benjamin Tsofa, Dennis Waithaka, Simon Lewin
Version published: 20 June 2024 


Name Country
Claire Glenton Norway
Esha Ray Chaudhuri Canada
Fatima Suleman South Africa
Goran Zangana United Kingdom
Jacinta Nzinga Kenya
Maria Eugenia Aponte-Rueda Venezuela
Neil Pakenham-Walsh United Kingdom
Simon Lewin Norway
Tarry Asoka Nigeria
Tripti Gupta India
Unni Gopinathan Norway