Partnerships for policy development: A case study from Uganda's costed implementation plan for family planning
In global health, partnerships between practitioners and policy makers facilitate stakeholders in jointly addressing those issues that require multiple perspectives for developing, implementing, and evaluating plans, strategies, and programs. For family planning, costed implementation plans (CIPs) are developed through a strategic government-led consultative process that results in a detailed plan for program activities and an estimate of the funding required to achieve an established set of goals. Since 2009, many countries have developed CIPs. Conventionally, the CIP approach has not been defined with partnerships as a focal point; nevertheless, cooperation between key stakeholders is vital to CIP development and execution. Uganda launched a CIP in November 2014, thus providing an opportunity to examine the process through a partnership lens. This article describes Uganda's CIP development process in detail, grounded in a framework for assessing partnerships, and provides the findings from 22 key informant interviews. Findings reveal strengths in Uganda's CIP development process, such as willingness to adapt and strong senior management support. However, the evaluation also highlighted challenges, including district health officers (DHOs), who are a key group of implementers, feeling excluded from the development process. There was also a lack of planning around long-term partnership practices that could help address anticipated execution challenges. The authors recommend that future CIP development efforts use a long-term partnership strategy that fosters accountability by encompassing both the short-term goal of developing the CIP and the longer-term goal of achieving the CIP objectives. Although this study focused on Uganda's CIP for family planning, its lessons have implications for any policy or strategy development efforts that require multiple stakeholders to ensure successful execution.