Government of Indonesia Research Institute Releases Evidence-Based Policy Recommendations on Maternal and Newborn Health
Strengthening government institutions’ capacity to produce data-driven policy recommendations on priority issues is a key component of Indonesia’s journey to self-reliance. In November 2019, the Government of Indonesia’s National Institute of Health Research and Development (Balitbangkes) released a series of policy briefs containing recommendations for addressing Indonesia’s high maternal and neonatal mortality rates. The briefs are the culmination of a capacity strengthening partnership between the USAID-funded Health Policy Plus (HP+) project and Balitbangkes researchers.
Balitbangkes is located within Indonesia’s Ministry of Health and is responsible for generating data and research on the country’s health burdens and framing evidence-based policy recommendations to address those burdens. Since May 2018, HP+ has partnered with Balitbangkes researchers to strengthen the institute’s capacity to draw policy insights from its wealth of survey data. This effort focused on using the institute’s data to inform maternal and neonatal health policies.
HP+ supported five groups of Balitbangkes researchers through the full life cycle of developing policy recommendations, from formulating research questions to disseminating policy briefs (see below). In addition to policy briefs, all five groups have submitted accompanying articles to international academic journals.
- “Refinement of Pregnancy Class Strategy to Improve Utilization of Maternal Health Care” (English, Indonesian). Journal article submitted to BMC Public Health.
- “Improving Male Participation in Maternal Health Care Seeking Behavior” (English, Indonesian). Journal article submitted to Elsevier.
- “Health Insurance as a solution for access and cost barriers to maternal health care utilization in Indonesia” (English, Indonesian). Journal article submitted to BMC Public Health.
- “The Role of Culture in Maternal Health Care Utilization” (English, Indonesian). Journal article submitted to BMC Public Health.
- “The Role of National Health Insurance (JKN) in Reducing the Financial Burden of Childbirth” (English, Indonesian). Journal article submitted to PLoS One.
HP+ support for the development of policy briefs and academic articles was part of a multifaceted capacity development approach. The HP+ approach was designed in direct response to specific capacity development needs highlighted by Balitbangkes researchers in a baseline self-assessment survey. Technical staff embedded at Balitbangkes provided daily, hands-on, “learning by doing” sessions; held small peer-review workshops; and organized larger methodological workshops with national and international experts. These workshops trained researchers to validate data, develop research questions, conduct quantitative analysis, visualize results, write journal articles, and formulate policy recommendations. HP+ sustained the relevance of the approach by monitoring participant learning in post-workshop assessments and making course corrections as needed.
An endline self-assessment revealed marked improvements in key capacity development areas, including researchers’ maternal and neonatal health knowledge, quantitative analysis skills, and ability to communicate research findings. The completion of the five policy briefs and accompanying journal articles is a tangible demonstration of these self-reported capacity improvements and a notable achievement for Indonesia. This capacity development process has positioned Balitbangkes as an increasingly valuable resource for evidence-based policymaking on maternal and neonatal health and beyond.