By Iddajovana P Kinyonge (IHI)
From 4-6 October 2014, a post symposium workshop was held at Fountain Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa , to deepen the discussion on the use of Participatory Action Research (PAR) in health policy and people centered health systems, including action on the social determinants of health. The workshop was open to delegates from all regions in order to foster cross regional exchange and to include people from the pra4equinet network in East and Southern Africa.
The objective of the post symposium workshop was to exchange experiences and information and build capacities in PAR, addressing the following:
1. The background to and motivations for the emergence and use of PAR in Health policy and Health Systems across different regions.
2. The key features of PAR and their implication for research in health and health systems.
3. Experiences of applying the processes and methods of PAR in people –Centered health systems.
4. Ethical Issues in taking forward work on PAR and,
5. Learning networks and Communities of practice in building capacities for, exchange on, documenting and reporting PAR.
The workshop was organized around four themes: Experiences and Origin of PAR, Features of PAR, Implementing PAR - process and methods, Learning networks and future work on PAR. The discussion allowed to reflect on the unique features of PAR, PAR for health and health systems research, PAR challenges and opportunities, how to use the new technology in PAR and further addressed ways to build new knowledge through PAR.
The workshop was facilitated by a team from Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC) in the Regional Network from Equity in Health in East and Southern Africa (EQUINET) as well as the Asociación Latinoamericana de Medicina Social (ALAMES) and consisted of presentations, group discussion, and role play.
The region network on Equity in health in East and Southern Africa (EQUINET) is a network of professionals, civil society members, policy makers, state officials and others within the region that have come together as an Equity catalyst, to promote and realise shared value of Equity and social justice in health. EQUINET networks people to overcome isolation, give voice and promote exchange and cooperation using bottom up approaches built on shared values.
ALAMES began in 1984 with a group of pioneers from Mexico, Ecuador, and Brazil and editorial committees of specialized journals. The association has remained a leader in the region because of its role in generating, harmonizing, and promoting the production of national groups and processes and after 19 years of work, ALAMES has become a powerful collectivity, defining itself as a social, political, and academic movement aimed at guiding public health and social medicine toward resolution of the historical and social determinants of the health-disease-care process.
Participants agreed to use the already existing EQUINET website for communicating, sharing different experiences, ideas and building skills on PAR. The need for regional networks was emphasized and it was indicated that it is necessary to build skills, share resources, experiences, practices and learning and embed PAR in other processes.