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Table 4 Summary of lessons learned from the policy dialogue processes

From: Assessing policy dialogues and the role of context: Liberian case study before and during the Ebola outbreak



1. Flexible funds

“Well, I will always talk of the indirect effect of having the dialogue. The fact that we had mapped out partners, we knew who to talk to initially. And with resource mapping, partners’ resources that were available and could not be used for the normal health services had to be directed to Ebola. I would say that those were some of the good outcomes, though indirect, of the policy dialogue.” (National level MoH official)

“I think critical issues that need to be addressed to improve any institution or any sector. And so if you have a grant that facilities this kind of work, I think it is a good thing because there has never been such a grant since I have been in this ministry that has supported policy-specific and related issues or issues that are not funded by major projects but are very important. I think this is a good lesson that we can learn from that.” (Senior MoH official _ national level)

2. Alignment of partners

“… We learned more about how to come together and distribute responsibilities. I think we also learned how to make the process more inclusive, like in involving the community.” (Senior MoH official _ national level)

“Responsibilities are shared, a partner may be designated as the lead. For example, the pillar lead hygiene promotion has been UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). So, they take the lead on that. And all other partners that are part of that group will follow and do the coordination.” (CSO Representative, national level)

“The main lesson I will take from this is that coordination and good results are effective when partners have a common forum for dialogue. It has helped to give some direction to all in the health sector. What I mean is that the ministry could have prepared the policies and plans, but I don’t think that alignment with partners, which gave a common direction for all stakeholders, is possible without dialogue.” (Senior MoH official _ national level)

3. Coordination

“Finding money that we can use for a consolidated operational plan for the sector is one lesson that we can learn as well, instead of having people with their individual work plans. But you need to bring them together so that you see the entire health sector plan.” (Senior MoH official _ national level)

“The positive lesson I have taken from this is that the MoH continued the coordination function of the health sector after Ebola. Just yesterday someone was saying that we are moving to development, not just recovery.” (CSO Representative, national level)

4. Community engagement

“… I don’t know if that will stick, but I do see that somehow people are starting to realise that without that component and without trust in the whole system, and without engagement between communities and their government, you are going to have a tough time responding.” (CSO Representative, national level)

5. Alignment of policy dialogue with political will

“Let’s start with the things that went really well. I think aligning the political will of the Presidency with the Ministry of Health with sort of key leaders was a good way to ensure at the highest level that the dialogue was consistent, whether or not what was being said in a meeting in the Ministry of Health was the same thing as what was being said in a meeting with the President.” (CSO Representative, national level)

6. Need for resilient health systems and quality control

“Another lesson learned was that our health system should be strengthened, because when some of our health facilities were built, our people were not thinking to meet present day realities. You know those places were just built because we needed health facilities; they are just tight and we need to make them elaborate so that we will have some of the services there for people to access.” (MoH official Sub national level)