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Strengthening National Capacities for Researching on Social Determinants of Health (SDH) Towards Informing and addressing health inequities in Tanzania.

Mtenga, S., Masanja, I. M. and Mamdani, M. (2016) Strengthening National Capacities for Researching on Social Determinants of Health (SDH) Towards Informing and addressing health inequities in Tanzania. International journal for equity in health, 15 (1). p. 23. ISSN 1475-9276

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Tanzania's socio-economic development is challenged by sharp inequities between and within urban and rural areas, and among different socio-economic groups. This paper discusses the importance of strengthening SDH research, knowledge, relevant capacities and responsive systems towards addressing health inequities in Tanzania. Based on a conceptual framework for building SDH research capacity, a mapping of existing research systems was undertaken between February and June 2012. It involved a review of national policies, strategies and published SDH-related research outputs from 2005 onwards, and 34 in-depth interviews with a range of stakeholders in Tanzania. The conceptualization of SDH varies considerably among stakeholders and their professional background, but with some consensus that it is linked to "inequities" being a consequence of poverty, poor planning, limited attention to basic humanity and citizenship rights, weak governance structures and inefficient use of available resources. Commonly perceived SDH factors include age, income, education, beliefs, cultural norms, gender, occupation, nutritional status, access to health care, access to safe water and sanitation and child bearing practices. SDH research is in its infancy but gaining momentum. In the absence of a specific "SDH portfolio", SDH research is scattered and hidden within disease specific, poverty-related research and research on universal health coverage. Research is mainly externally funded, which has implications on the focus of context specific SDH research, national priorities and transfer to policy. This create mismatch with population and research capacity needs. Most research analysis in the country fails to consider the context specific structural determinants of health and inequities towards a broader understanding of existing vulnerabilities. The challenge is on promoting a culture of critical inter-disciplinary research and analysis that is central to SDH research. Establishing a system to promote collaboration across sectors and strengthen collective capacities for individuals and institutions researching in SDH will augment existing SDH research initiatives and better inform appropriate intersectoral policies towards addressing prevailing health inequities across the country.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Public policies, Health inequities, Research capacities, Research systems, socio-economic, Perceptions, Knowledge, Qualitative
Subjects: Health Systems > Community Health
Divisions: Ifakara Health Institute > Impact Evaluation
Depositing User: Mr Joseph Madata
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2016 08:30
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2016 08:30

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