A Revolutionary Look at Health Policy Analysis in Developing Countries

A Revolutionary Look at Health Policy Analysis in Developing Countries

Rahmatollah Gholipour (University of Tehran, Iran), Khadijeh Rouzbehani (University of Tehran, Iran) and Goltan Fakhteh Yavari (University of Tehran, Iran)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9944-1.ch007
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Health policy analysis has been the focus of attention of a number of scholars, health practitioners and policy makers. However, there has been much less attention given to how to do policy analysis, what research designs, theories or methods best inform policy analysis. This study begins by looking at the health policy environment, and some of the challenges to researching this highly complex phenomenon. It focuses on research in middle and low income countries. Attention is drawn to the roles of the policy researcher and the importance of reflexivity and researcher's position in the research process and finally ways of advancing the field of health policy analysis is discussed.
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Health Policy Environment

It is important to contextualize the health policy environment in order to understand the challenges to methodology and theory. While drawing on ideas and concepts from general policy analysis, most of which is derived from studies on high income countries, this paper focuses on health policy, and on low and middle income countries. Much of the theory from policy analysis in high income countries has resonance for health and developing countries, and can usefully inform research in those areas.

However, transferring such concepts needs to be undertaken with caution. It is generally fair to say that the health sector has specific characteristics which affect the policy environment (and that differentiate it from other social sectors). The state may be both provider and purchaser of services, but also is involved in regulation, research and training among other functions. In service provision, it may be in competition or partnership with a private sector that it is also regulating. In undertaking its health care purchasing and regulatory functions, the state is usually heavily reliant on—and may lack—essential information that can only be provided by the sectors it is over-seeing.

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