Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 496228
Title The role of policy actors and contextual factors in policy agenda setting and formulation : Maternal fee exemption policies in Ghana over four and a half decades
Author(s) Koduah, Augustina; Dijk, Han van; Agyepong, Irene Akua
Source Health Research Policy and Systems 13 (2015). - ISSN 1478-4505 - 20 p.
Department(s) Sociology of Development and Change
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2015
Keyword(s) Context - Fee exemption - Maternal health services - Policy actors - Policy agenda setting - Policy formulation

Background: Development of health policy is a complex process that does not necessarily follow a particular format and a predictable trajectory. Therefore, agenda setting and selecting of alternatives are critical processes of policy development and can give insights into how and why policies are made. Understanding why some policy issues remain and are maintained whiles others drop off the agenda is an important enquiry. This paper aims to advance understanding of health policy agenda setting and formulation in Ghana, a lower middle-income country, by exploring how and why the maternal (antenatal, delivery and postnatal) fee exemption policy agenda in the health sector has been maintained over the four and half decades since a 'free antenatal care in government facilities' policy was first introduced in October 1963. Methods: A mix of historical and contemporary qualitative case studies of nine policy agenda setting and formulation processes was used. Data collection methods involved reviews of archival materials, contemporary records, media content, in-depth interviews, and participant observation. Data was analysed drawing on a combination of policy analysis theories and frameworks. Results: Contextual factors, acting in an interrelating manner, shaped how policy actors acted in a timely manner and closely linked policy content to the intended agenda. Contextual factors that served as bases for the policymaking process were: political ideology, economic crisis, data about health outcomes, historical events, social unrest, change in government, election year, austerity measures, and international agendas. Nkrumah's socialist ideology first set the agenda for free antenatal service in 1963. This policy trajectory taken in 1963 was not reversed by subsequent policy actors because contextual factors and policy actors created a network of influence to maintain this issue on the agenda. Politicians over the years participated in the process to direct and approve the agenda. Donors increasingly gained agenda access within the Ghanaian health sector as they used financial support as leverage. Conclusion: Influencers of policy agenda setting must recognise that the process is complex and intertwined with a mix of political, evidence-based, finance-based, path-dependent, and donor-driven processes. Therefore, influencers need to pay attention to context and policy actors in any strategy.

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