Linking Policies to Reproductive Health Programs and Outcomes: The Importance of the Policy Implementation Space
Karen Hardee, Futures Group International
Laili Irani, Population Reference Bureau (PRB)
Mariela Rodriguez, Futures Group
Policy is integral to the success of any health program, including sexual and reproductive health programs. Yet, most policy literature focuses on policy development. Literature on program implementation rarely focuses on the role of policy. Based on a review of academic and programmatic/applied literature, we have developed a conceptual framework linking health policies to health systems and outcomes. The strength of this conceptual framework is the articulation of the importance of the space between the development of a policy and the implementation of a program. Using examples from the field, we identify the challenges in policy implementation that affect programs and health outcomes. Our analysis also identifies gaps in the literature pertaining to the areas of sexual and reproductive health policy implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. We also recommend the initiation of evaluation studies examining the complete policy process linking health policies to health systems and to health outcomes.