Evaluating a traditional medicine policy in South Africa: phase 1 development of a policy assessment tool
Policy Empowerment Index
Public aspects of medicine
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AbstractBackground: Policies that empower individuals and communities may be appropriate for public health, and more broadly. Simple, transparent and acceptable tools are therefore required to evaluate policies from an empowerment perspective. In 2008, the South African Department of Health (DOHSA) drafted a policy to endorse the integration of African Traditional Medicine (ATM) into the public health sector, following the World Health Organization&#x0027;s (WHO) long-standing directives. Objective: The purpose of this study is to critically analyze this policy using a novel evaluation tool. Design: A 12-point &#x2018;Policy Empowerment Index&#x2019; (PEI) is introduced, and used to classify and score the policy according to five theoretical policy types. The evaluation was based on a stepwise review and associated publications: policy drafts, policy statements and news announcements. Results: According to the assessment tool, the ATM policy was marginally &#x2018;supportive&#x2019; of constituent empowerment, although several &#x2018;directive&#x2019; features were also observed. The importance of ATM to SA&#x0027;s communities and the promotion of education, employment, entrepreneurship and peripheral resource mobilization were the main empowering elements. Centralised conception, planning and implementation, the absence of provisions for local adaptations and the authoritative legislation context were sub-optimal features. Conclusions: South Africa&#x0027;s ATM legislation may need to further involve communities in policy design and implementation to capitalise upon the broader benefits of community empowerment. However, the iterative nature of method and evaluation is important. Indeed, they are proposed as points to initiate participatory development, and improve policy evaluation . Such instruments can empower constituents in the political process.