Strengthening public dialogue and national research capacity
The Culture, HIV and AIDS project is currently working throughout the 2010-2011 biennium to build enabling environments for the design, implementation and evaluation of HIV and AIDS policies which are context-specific and culturally appropriate.
To this end, the project will work to:
1) Strengthen national research capacity through greater involvement of the civil society sector in local research and evaluation;
2) Increase uptake of evidence based information at the policy level through improved communication among researchers and policy makers; and
3) Stimulate people-centered policy formation through informed pubic dialogue and exchange on HIV and AIDS related issues.
Locally generated research is essential for providing the evidence needed to formulate effective, context specific, culturally appropriate HIV and AIDS policies. Given, the severely overburdened and under resourced status of many health systems worldwide, as well as the debilitating impacts of the 'brain drain' in many countries throughout Africa (70% percent of Africa's researchers work outside of Africa), the need for innovative approaches for strengthening research capacity at the national level is clear.
At the same time, research has shown that evidence, while integral to informed policy formation, is often communicated in ways incomprehensible to policymakers and local communities. Training researchers to effectively communicate findings increases uptake. Finally, while HIV&AIDS stigma and discrimination remain persistent, greater public dialogue can increase ownership of the infection among a population and breakdown longstanding prejudices. Public participation also often results in more representative policy-making, enhancing the effectiveness of policies and improving quality of services provided.