Open Access Research article

Perspectives on the role of stakeholders in knowledge translation in health policy development in Uganda

Juliet Nabyonga Orem1*, Bruno Marchal2, DavidKaawa Mafigiri3, Freddie Ssengooba4, Jean Macq5, Valeria Campos Da Silveira2 and Bart Criel2

  • * Corresponding author: Juliet Nabyonga Orem

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 WHO Uganda office, Health systems and services cluster, P. O. Box 24578, Kampala, Uganda

2 Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp-Belgium, Nationalestraat 155, Antwerp, 2000, Belgium

3 Makerere University School of Social Sciences, P.O Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda

4 Makerere University, School of Public Health, Kampala, P.O. Box. 7072, Uganda

5 Université Catholique de Louvain, Boite 3058, Clos Chapelle aux champs, 30, Bruxelles, 1200, Belgium

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:324  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-324

Published: 19 August 2013



Stakeholder roles in the application of evidence are influenced by context, the nature of the evidence, the policy development process, and stakeholder interactions. Past research has highlighted the role of stakeholders in knowledge translation (KT) without paying adequate attention to the peculiarities of low-income countries. Here we identify the roles, relations, and interactions among the key stakeholders involved in KT in Uganda and the challenges that they face.


This study employed qualitative approaches to examine the roles of and links among various stakeholders in KT. In-depth interviews were conducted with 21 key informants and focused on the key actors in KT, their perceived roles, and challenges.


Major stakeholders included civil society organizations with perceived roles of advocacy, community mobilization, and implementation. These stakeholders may ignore unconvincing evidence. The community’s role was perceived as advocacy and participation in setting research priorities. The key role of the media was perceived as knowledge dissemination, but respondents noted that the media may misrepresent evidence if it is received in a poorly packaged form. The perceived roles of policy makers were evidence uptake, establishing platforms for KT and stewardship; negative roles included ignoring or even misrepresenting evidence that is not in their favor. The roles of parliamentarians were perceived as advocacy and community mobilization, but they were noted to pursue objectives that may not be supported by the evidence. The researchers’ main role was defined as evidence generation, but focusing disproportionately on academic interests was cited as a concern. The donors’ main role was defined as funding research and KT, but respondents were concerned about the local relevance of donor-supported research. Respondents reported that links among stakeholders were weak due to the absence of institutionalized, inclusive platforms. Challenges facing the stakeholders in the process of KT were identified.


Our investigation revealed the need to consider the roles that various stakeholders are best placed to play. Links and necessary platforms must be put in place to achieve synergy in KT. Relevant capacities need to be built to overcome the challenges faced by the various stakeholders.

Research; Uptake; Policy; Practice; Roles; Stakeholders; Uganda; Low-income countries