From Directors Corner

From Directors Corner

IPR Participation inthe National Research and Development Agenda: As a public institution, NMK-IPR is expected to play its rightful role of knowledge creation through research, and translation of research results into products and policies. As the second largest biomedical facility in the country (after KEMRI), and the only preclinical testing facility that has access to small and large animal models of human diseases in the country and region, we are uniquely suited to influence current and future medical practice, or the management and conservation of non-human primates, by generating research data that contributes to evidence-based policies and practice. So how is IPR contributing to the national research agenda in the country? We are represented and participate in many forums within and...

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Page6:Chief of Research’s corner

Researchers and the challenge of working to contribute to national policy

National policy being a crucial planning instrument for national development entails that all stakeholders including state and non-state actors demonstrate sufficient level of understanding of this important process.



Policy making and policy implementation are the two key elements of this process.In general, while most actors primarily either make or implement policy, researchers, by virtue of the intrinsic nature of the work they do, are demanded of to contribute to either facets of the process.


In terms of policy making, research plays a great role in turning in key findings that inform the process geared towards solving a new problem or that serve to enlighten new approaches to an on-going challenge. On the other hand, research is also widely applied as a tool to implement key targets defined in such important planning documents as national visions and strategies.



An important question is whether an explicit mechanismexists at national and/or institutional level by which researchers are expected to substantively play a role in thepolicy process. Specifically, are researchers, particularly in the biological and physical sciences, empowered to communicate their research results to government agencies that formulate policy? Equally, to what extent are policy formulators equipped to engage with researchers in a manner that permits useful information exchange? Nearer home, an on-going study by our own researchers, Stan Kivai and Peter Fundi, aimed at assessing the population and habitat status of endemic and endangered Percival’s Black and White Colobus Monkeys and sympatric primates in Mathews’ Range Forest Reserve,is yielding interesting results with implications for designing evidence-based policy decisions on conservation of some of these endangered species.



A related issue is the enormous volume of research results and related methodologies that IPR scientists have generated over the years and how some of this important information can be packaged into policy briefs to inform decion-making. Other than the challenge of packaging these data into policy briefs to inform decision-makers, the question remains whether a proper mechanism of engagement between researchers and decision-makers exists to enable effective preparation, exchange and use of such information. Increasingly, researchers are being called upon to participatein committees working towards formulation of policies.While this may provide a platform for researchers to play a role in policy making, clearly, this is another area of great challenge.



Often, researchers have found themselves ill-equipped to meaningfully contribute to such policy making process other than merely provide information from their areas of expertise. To address these challenges, undoubtedly, it will be worthwhile to consider deliberate and structured induction sessions, at national and/or institutional level, to equip both researchers and decision-makers with necessary skills in effective preparation,exchange and use of research-derived information in decisionmaking.We hope to instigate this process at IPR in due course.



In line with the foregoing, IPR has been invited to participate in the 2nd Research-to-Policy Workshop organized by the Consortium for National Health Research (CNHR) that will be held on June 21-22, 2012 at Windsor Golf and Country Club, Nairobi.



The workshop seeks to use research results to inform dialogue, action and change and particularly to address weaknesses in the country as we match match towards the attainment of millennium development goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Evans Taracha, PhD