The National Oral Health Policy Workshop held in Lilongwe last February resulted in the establishment of a task force to take the policy development work forward under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP).
After the workshop, the Ministry drafted Terms of Reference for the task force, but by March we were being challenged both in Malawi and the UK by COVID-19. Inevitably this placed significant pressures on all parties to manage the pandemic, resulting in some delay, but on Thursday 27th August the first meeting of the task force was held via Zoom, chaired by Dr Nedson Fosiko, Deputy Director of Clinical Services in the MoHP.
The main purposes of the meeting were to confirm acceptance of the Terms of Reference and then to map the way forward for developing the policy.
Brian Chaima, from the Policy Development Unit, Department of Planning & Policy Development at the MoHP, took us through a brief presentation on the standard process used for policy development by the Malawi Government.
The initial step is to develop a concept paper:
Much of the content required to create a concept paper was covered at the Policy Workshop in February and this stage will be relatively straightforward.
Once the concept note has been approved by the Principal Secretary, the next stage is to develop a Policy Analysis Document (PAD):
This phase of the process requires a situation analysis. One element will be a rapid review of relevant literature, which Lorna Macpherson and I have agreed to lead on, with involvement of Ronald Manjomo. We will also create a list of key questions relating to the local environment e.g. up to date statistics for the oral health workforce in Malawi. This will involve consultation with a wide range of stakeholders and we will work closely with Peter Chimimba and Wiston Mukiwa on this part of the programme.
On the basis of the situation analysis, policy options will be generated, followed by a process of policy impact assessment:
Ultimately a recommended option will be generated together with an accompanying implementation plan:
Finally, the Policy Framework Document will be developed, for review and approval by senior Ministry and Government officials up to the level of the Cabinet:
This is a complex and ordered process, but being led by Nedson Fosiko and Brian Chaima from the Ministry of Health & Population will ensure we keep on track. A series of regular meetings is now being scheduled to ensure we also keep to time!