Scaling-up, a neglected focus of implementation research?


Organised session at the 4th global symposium on health systems research
Vancouver, 17 Nov 2016


Too often implementation research is focused on piloting new interventions, showing that certain interventions are effective (or not); what happens after the pilot phase is commonly of less interest especially to those beyond the program management. However, when proven successful interventions are applied on a large scale, a well-more policy and implementation learning and mid-course decisions are needed to overcome new challenges not tested at the pilot stage.

The objective of this session – organised by the European Union- was to identify ways to increase the uptake of interventions that have proven to be successful for the improvement of health systems, through a stronger focus on implementation research for scaling up evidence-based interventions.

This session built on examples of implementation research in service delivery areas to address the importance of scaling-up the implementation of successful interventions and the research needed for these processes – in particular, discussed the added value of accompanying this scaling-up phase by well-designed implementation research as well as the barriers that may be encountered to do so.

Presentations from panellists included research and policy perspectives. Health systems researchers and practitioners as well as policy makers, shared their experience with regard to the added value of implementation research when bringing successful interventions to scale and the barriers that may impede this.

SPEED Project Director, Professor Freddie Ssengooba; one of the panellists with a research perspective, explored the policy-implementation gap and shared the innovations the SPEED project is undertaking to address this.

Professor Ssengooba’s presentation focused largely on how the Policy Implementation Barometer (PIB) is being applied in advancing continuous policymakers’ engagement with the implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) interventions in Uganda.  He explained that the PIB will support policymakers to monitor the upstream actions needed for the implementation of vital programs for the realisation of policy goals for UHC.


Professor Ssengooba (1st right) poses for a group photo with other panellists and the session moderator

“It is expected that PIB findings will feed into policy/decision making processes and will contribute to the on-going improvement in the implementation of policies and decisions especially for UHC”, Professor Ssengooba said.