A University of Limerick-led research initiative into the impact public administration systems has on effective HIV/AIDS policies received €578,784 funding from Irish Aid in its programme of Strategic Cooperation with Higher Education and Research Institutes.
Working in partnership with the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Makerere University, Uganda the project seeks to optimise the use of health system resources to more effectively address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Speaking at the launch, Minister of State, Jan O’Sullivan said; “During my time as Minister for Overseas Development Aid I saw at first hand the tremendous progress that can be achieved in tackling HIV/ AIDS in Africa. The best results for communities were achieved where voluntary organisations and local and government strategies were aligned. Tackling this crisis in partnership is the key to success. This new research project, led by the University of Limerick, has the capacity to identify the structures that work best, highlight where systems are currently failing and establish best practice solutions that assist in our battle against this devastating disease. Much positive work in combatting HIV/AIDs have been achieved in Africa and the past decade has seen a decrease in infection rates. This project can build on that success and I wish UL and their partners across Africa every success with this important project.”
The project examines the relationships between actors in the complex networks which shape the implementation of HIV/AIDS policy. It will identify criteria that determine optimal policy implementation, while employing an emancipatory approach which treats the research process itself as a means to promote the development of sustainable networks, capabilities and pro-poor policy outcomes. By partnering with universities in Africa, the project will strengthen relationships and synergies between these institutions to support innovative approaches to policy analysis, and will also deepen the capacity of the Southern institutions to promote effective administration of health policies in their local settings.
Professor Tom Lodge, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, UL explains the significance of the project; “The current figures show that more than 20 million people are infected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. Infection rates compared to a decade ago are down and they are reducing further but it is still the case that nearly two Africans people a year are becoming HIV-positive. Around 7 million are receiving treatment: much more needs to be done to help those who are affected directly. The critical work is in prevention. There are many success stories here which we can learn from. Applying these lessons in areas and among groups where they are most needed remains a key challenge. Often the most vulnerable people live in vicinities in which public administrations are very weak, whether with respect to the provision or support for primary health care, or in helping to promote behavioural changes through public education or in creating a safer environment for women. Our project will be focusing on efforts to address these challenges”.
This project is funded by Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Higher Education Authority.