Operations Research (OR) is at the heart of our PRRINN-MNCH programme. It is about data driving change from the community ‘demand side’ and service ‘supply side’. This ranges from advocacy, where we aim to increase service acceptability and accountability, to the development of larger policy aims and programme approaches.
Evidence-based approaches: A key to OR is evidence and transparency as the basis for sound investment, sound management and good governence through public accountability.The programme will test practical evidence-based approaches to improving maternal, newborn and child health and to making sure these services are used at the right time. Any insight will inform the development of similar approaches outside the programme area and is central to securing the programme's success.
Knowledge generation: Any improvements in maternal, newborn and child health proposed by the programme depend on the creation and utilisation of knowledge. A knowledge-based culture is important to drive change in organisational practices and also to ensure that resources are aligned to needs.
Community ownership and accountability: Information gained through OR can help stimulate greater community ownership of local health agendas. This may increase influence on the demand-side, such as quality and equity of provision, but also has implications for the supply side as well. With its emphasis on accountability, transparency and development of a knowledge culture, OR can play a key role in strengthening health system stewardship and improving health service uptake and delivery.
Lever for change: OR can be employed as a lever for changing institutional relationships, organisational alignment and basic decision-making processes. Experience from work in similar regions has revealed institutional weaknesses; specifically in the fragile structures of stewardship and services. Thus, we see how important it is to invest in the entire programme cycle and not to view any programme in isolation.
All of the above are necessary for the Nigerian programme to succeed and will help Nigeria make progress in meeting the country’s Millennium Development Goals.