This paper describes how a collaborative research involving health decision-makers, service providers, communities and research institutions provided a pathway for getting evidence into the design of Kenya’s community health strategy as part of wider health systems improvement.
The case study: The process started with a review of community-based health care in the eastern Africa region, followed by pilot projects in western Kenya. More demand for evidence by national decision-makers arose when a window of opportunity emerged to develop a national community health strategy. The decision-makers were engaged in the follow-up studies to inform further development of the strategy. Challenges included competing work interests of the decision-makers, delays in getting research results, and financial modalities.
Conclusions: Decision-makers can utilise locally generated research evidence to address a major health systems problem if they are engaged in the study from the beginning. Their continued engagement in the study can also lead to more resource mobilization for additional evidence generation. The involvement of influential development partners and strengthening decision-makers’ capacity in knowledge translation are also critical for effective research utilisation.