Research priority setting for health policy and health systems strengthening in Nigeria: The policymakers and stakeholders perspective and involvement
Introduction: Nigeria is one of the low and middle income countries (LMICs) facing severe resource constraint, making it impossible for adequate resources to be allocated to the health sector. Priority setting becomes imperative because it guides investments in health care, health research and respects resource constraints. The objective of this study was to enhance the knowledge and understanding of policymakers on research
priority setting and to conduct a research priority setting exercise.
Methods: A one-day evidence-to-policy research priority setting meeting was held. The meeting participants included senior and middle level policymakers and key decision makers/stakeholders in the health sector in Ebonyi State southeastern Nigeria. The priorities setting meeting involved a training session on priority setting process and conduction of priority setting exercise using the essential national health research (ENHR) approach. The focus was on the health systems building blocks (health workforce; health finance; leadership/governance; medical products/technology; service delivery; and health information/evidence).
Results: Of the total of 92 policymakers invited 90(97.8%) attended the meeting. It was the consensus of the policymakers that research should focus on the challenges of optimal access to health products and technology; effective health service delivery and disease control under a national emergency situation; the shortfalls in the supply of professional personnel; and the issues of governance in the health sector management.
Conclusion:Research priority setting exercise involving policymakers is an example of demand driven strategy in the health policymaking process capable of reversing inequities and strengthening the health systems in LMICs.