Successive global health and development agendas have been embraced by African governments—Alma Ata in 1978, the Bamako Initiative in 1987, the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, and more recently the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—only to be followed by widespread implementation failure. This paper presents an approach to program development in Ghana that is using research to accelerate policy implementation. Originally launched in 1994 as a participatory pilot project of the Navrongo Health Research Centre, a controlled experimental study was initiated in 1996 to assess the fertility and child-survival impact of alternative community health and family planning service strategies. Posting nurses to communities reduced childhood mortality rates by half, accelerating attainment of the childhood-survival MDG within five years. Adding community-mobilization strategies and volunteer outreach to this approach led to a 15-percent reduction in fertility. When a replication project in the Volta Region demonstrated that the Navrongo service model could be transferred to a nonresearch setting, the Government of Ghana adopted the Navrongo approach as the health component of its national poverty-reduction strategy. In 2000, the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) initiative was launched to accelerate implementation of this policy. By mid-2005, CHPS was fully operational in 20 districts and under development in nearly every other district of Ghana. Analysis of successive phases of the Ghana program-development process demonstrates feasible means of improving national access to reproductive and child health services.
Phillips, James F., Ayaga A. Bawah, and Fred N. Binka. 2005. "Accelerating reproductive and child health program development: The Navrongo initiative in Ghana," Policy Research Division Working Paper no. 208. New York: Population Council.