The Verbal Autopsy and Participatory Action Research (VAPAR) project has developed a method to connect health authorities, communities and researchers to do partnerships research of mutual benefit. This work has been progressed with the DFID/MRC/ESRC/Wellcome Health Systems Research Initiative and the Agincourt Health and Socio-Demographic Surveillance Site of Wits University, Mpumalanga Provincial Department of Health, and the Universities of Aberdeen in Scotland and Umea in Sweden.
In VAPAR, researchers, communities and health systems stakeholders worked together to generate evidence on disease profiles levels and causes, their health systems and social determinants, and priorities for action. With a focus on non-academic beneficiaries, these outputs are being disseminated to investigate their relevance, and to reflect on the method as a means of sustainable and self-administered evaluation and planning. The workshop will present three elements of the method for discussion with health systems colleagues.
(1) New ways to routinely record and understand deaths investigated in Verbal Autopsy (VA) in related to the circumstances of mortality;
(2) Participatory action research (PAR) as a method to generate evidence with communities on social and health systems avoidable mortality
(3) Working with health systems practitioners to interpret e VA and PAR data, producing actionable public health agendas.
The process provided more real data, rigorously validated at community and health systems levels addressing previously unknown issues and developing actionable plans. The method has been appraised as a robust and innovative partnerships approach to collaborative research, and viewed as acceptable and relevant for health systems use.
The workshop will disseminate the methods and findings. The workshop will strengthen partnerships for practical and problem oriented research, provide feedback on policy initiatives at different levels, extend contextually relevant approaches to VA, and continue to engage with communities through PAR.
This workshop brings together individuals from academic and non-academic backgrounds to explore methods and opportunities to generate ‘people-centred’, ‘action-oriented’ information on health inequalities. By people-centred information, we mean information developed by and for people who are directly affected by the issues being investigated. By action-oriented information, we mean information that is developed for and with, and embedded in, forms of acting upon the information provided.
The main aim is to extend the method into a process to act on the evidence generated. This adds a crucial link that goes beyond the identification of problems and solutions towards action and implementing change.
Image credit: © D'Ambruoso 2015