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Keywords:

  • capacity;
  • Ministry of Health;
  • conceptual framework;
  • developing country;
  • Tajikistan

SUMMARY

An adequate capacity of ministries of health (MOH) to develop and implement policies is essential. However, no frameworks were found assessing MOH capacity to conduct health policy processes within developing countries. This paper presents a conceptual framework for assessing MOH capacity to conduct policy processes based on a study from Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic where independence highlighted capacity challenges.

The data collection for this qualitative study included in-depth interviews, document reviews and observations of policy events. Framework approach for analysis was used. The conceptual framework was informed by existing literature, guided the data collection and analysis, and was subsequently refined following insights from the study.

The Tajik MOH capacity, while gradually improving, remains weak. There is poor recognition of wider contextual influences, ineffective leadership and governance as reflected in centralised decision-making, limited use of evidence, inadequate actors' participation and ineffective use of resources to conduct policy processes. However, the question is whether this is a reflection of lack of MOH ability or evidence of constraining environment or both.

The conceptual framework identifies five determinants of robust policy processes, each with specific capacity needs: policy context, MOH leadership and governance, involvement of policy actors, the role of evidence and effective resource use for policy processes. Three underlying considerations are important for applying the capacity to policy processes: the need for clear focus, recognition of capacity levels and elements, and both ability and enabling environment. The proposed framework can be used in assessing and strengthening of the capacity of different policy actors. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.