The health care policy plays a big role in the improvement of health globally. The creation of awareness on these policies and encouraging major health sectors to participate in their formulation is henceforth necessary. Since 1970, the feminists’ movement has made every effort to influence the legislation, policies, programs and services mainly in the areas affecting women’s reproductive health. These areas include birth control, abortions, security for the battered women, rape crisis centers, sexual identity, as well as economic independence. The campaigns incorporated by this feminists’ movement led to the agreement on the need to make health centers women-centered and also gender sensitive. They also led to entailing the feminists in affecting the policy as well as encouraged their participation in the policy-making and implementation process. Though varying policies are made concerning the issue of women’s health globally, they all show that women’s agendas have much in common despite their varying social contexts.
They highlight such aspects that necessitate the formulation of these policies such as the gender- based biases women face as well as the social limitations. These policies focus on a wider perspective other than the normal ailments that any other human encounters. For instance other than the medical concerns, they also factor in issues such as violence against women, psychological health, work-related health issues, outcomes of women ageing , health consequences of sex-role stereotyping, ethical and political concerns. The women’s health policy is majorly constituted by the reproductive and sexual health. Some key principles incorporated in the formulation of this policy include; women’s participation in the policy making, provision of health information for women and training health care providers .
The policy making process is mainly cyclical in nature. It gives an organized perception to policy though the actual process is not as organized. It involves three stages which vary from one society to another. Whichever the society, the policy must incorporate policy formulation, policy implementation and policy evaluation. In some societies, the process starts with evaluation since in some cases there is always an already existing policy. The formulation and implementation of the health policy is done by the government and the relevant health care organization. The governments incorporate the three branches in formulation of these policies; that is; the Executive, The Legislature and the Judiciary.
The formulation of policies is the initial stage of policy making. This stage involves gathering of information, ideas and opinions from relevant people, organizations and interest groups. These include senior professionals from; the highest political-level offices, Ministry of science and technology, Ministry of health, Ministry of education including universities, Ministry of planning and finance, health and medical professionals. The information should be valid and of sound practical advice. It should involve all aspects of the national health programmes. After gathering all necessary information, this information is used to set up the issue, that is, the intended objectives are identified and clearly outlined, strategies towards attainment of the set objectives are identified as well as identification of necessary sources and planning for them .
The formulation stage has several stages as well. Other than collecting the necessary data, the priorities are set, a draft of the policy produced, options defined, circulating for peer examination and adjustment of the policy, and attainment of a formal commendation of the policy from relevant authorities. This makes policy making a particularly interactive process, since all of these stages have to be incorporated. The formulation stage involves a lot of research from different individuals. Since information is always advancing, this means this policy formulation should at least be conducted every six years to update the policies to incorporate current factors. However, the national health should conform to the overall national development plans.
The health policy is formulated under quite a broad research policy system. There are about three alternatives in formulating a general policy which are also applied in the formulation of a health care policy. They include; a unicentric health policy system which involves a single authority, which in most cases the government. Secondly is the multicentric health research policy system which incorporates independent players such as research institutions and organizations. Thirdly is the pluricentric system which is a kind of network. Widespread network of key players is vital in the success of this system. For each country, the formulation system is different.
The legislative stage is a part of the implementation since it sets a frame for the implementation of the policy. This stage offers acceptance to laws which provide an executive basis for the progress and administration of health systems and programmes. The law has many values. It gives authorized rights and imposes legal responsibilities. It also stimulates the right behavior, empowers programmes, regulates assets for health services, and provides ensures funding of health care services. All these and any other uses of the legislature make it an important tool in policy making. Whatever is drafted and presented to the country’s legislature should be the best tool suitable to back the women’s health policy.
Legislation is basically law that has been written down. This can be created by the major legislative body of a government by any other body that has the authority to do such as the health care organizations. The law is then only recognized as existent after it has been passed in the parliament. The inventory of this legislation however, needs to be measured thoroughly in light of the policy. A brief written illustration of the policy will also be useful in conveying the aims of the proposed legislation in the legislative hierarchy in order to ensure the most effective tool is used. During this stage, any known limitations should also be pointed out. This entails constraints such as resource constraints, whether economic or relating to convenience of qualified personnel.
When a new law is formulated, it has to be placed aptly in a hierarchy of legislation. One major aim is ensuring that he policy of law, at whichever level it exists, it is both practical and applicable to the resource available. It also by attachment of rights and duties, should aim at harmonizing the public interests and individual rights as well as balancing the welfares of various groups in the society, resolving any clashes between the groups in that society. Hence in order to provide the most competent legislative outline of the draft the drafter should be informed on the country’s legislative structure. He also needs to have information or knowledge on the legislative process. He should gain access to the existing drafts, policies, laws and sub-laws. He then should gain adequate understanding of the policy sought to be implemented and bear in mind any resource constraints that are likely to come up or are present. Carrying out of these tasks, give these legislation drafters an added advantage of endowment with knowledge of the existing health legislation, and the desired process to accomplish change in one’s country.
This stage takes place when an adopted policy is endorsed. It involves publicizing information about the adopted policy and putting this policy into action. The accepted policy is now converted into a plan of action. The main players involved in this stage include; an executive committee of the policy formulating body, medical research councils, ministry of health, ministry of science and technology and also the university conglomerate. It is advisable that they involve division of authority among the main actors in order to have full participation of the members. The formulated sub-committee works on the details. It is also considered wise that they develop detailed plans each in their own areas to maximize the resource use. While doing this they should avoid duplication of effort in order to diversify their plans.
Enactment of the policy by the government bodies or by any relevant organizations is usually implemented through the regulatory process that translates the policy into a written set of rules issued by the government agency which has the responsibility for overseeing it. This stage of the policy marks the end to the first phase of policy making. Policy enactment is however, sometimes not enough to stimulate change. Hence policy as a tool for change must considerately tackle the organizational, professional, and social contexts within which the policy is to be implemented. The second phase starts with the evaluation and modification which is an assessment of the formulated policy to ensure success in the achievement of the policy’s objectives. You measure the suitability, relevance, competence, efficiency, usefulness, equity, receptiveness and impact .
The current United States government has put a lot of effort in emphasizing on global health. They have developed a women centered approach which seeks to improve the health of women and girls not only for their own sustenance but also for the sake of their communities since they are regarded as core in the society. They have set up an initiative program called Global Health Initiative which participates fully in the implementation of the women’s health- related policies. For instance they see to it that barriers to quality health cares are dealt away with and advance the monitoring for the health of adolescents and young girls. They also encourage the participation of men and boys in the issues dealing with gender impartiality.
The Obama government, in 2010, offered a provision of a national health care reform law requiring all insurance plans, including those sponsored by religious groups to have coverage for birth control pills and other contraceptives in women. This however proved to be controversial with the religions point of view and recently, the New Hampshire Republican has voted to exempt religious groups from having to include this coverage into their insurance plans.
Involving the women as part of the stake holders is also vital as seen in the recent fight against abortion in Texas. The women decided to invest all their resources to exhaustion in the recent fight against the state’s validation for Planned Parenthood. This fights also led to the closure of several clinics, and strictly none of the others, even those sponsored by the Planned Parenthood law, performed abortion. This fights gained many supporters who were pleased by the outcome .
The entire health care system including the public and private sectors and the political forces affecting the system, are shaped by the healthcare policy making process. Women’s health-related policies have to concur with the government’s regulations or court rulings. The policy making process involves several steps. It is also broken down into phases. The first phase of the process incorporates three stages; the formulation of the draft, the legislative aspects of the policy and the implementation of the policy. Health research in policy making is a vital activity that should be undertaken since it contributes to policies that are successful and produce the desired results. These results include health gain and also a consideration into all aspects of the needs that women face. This activity is mainly included in the formulation stage of the policy making process.
The success of the policy formulation and implementation is influenced by a number of factors; first, is the context in which the policy operates. This is because the formulation of a women’s health policy needs a thorough comprehension of the needs, opportunities and constraints of the women. Next, a variety of stakeholders must be taken into account. This is in order to get donor support as well as full participation of the members as well as the health workers. The women need to form part of the stakeholder fraternity since they understand their needs best hence will sure voice out all necessary concerns. Political commitments are also necessary for achievement of national strategies. One of the measures of the success of these policies is visible change in the benefits women have out of it.
Abood, S. (2007, January 07). Influencing Health Care in the Legislative Arena. Retrieved March 04, 2012, from Online journal of issues in nursing: www.nursingworld .org
Nicholas, D. (2011). Implimentation Reaserch: a primer. Retrieved March 04, 2012, from Global Health Magazine: www.globalhealthmagazine.com
Sameen Siddiqia, T. I. (2009). Health Policy. Retrieved March 09, 2012, from Elsevier: www.elsevier.com
Sarah B, S. S. (2012, 03 08). Daily health policy report. Retrieved 03 09, 2012, from Kaiser Health News: www.kaiserhealthnews.org