A theory-based evaluation of the Leadership for Universal Health Coverage Programme: insights for multisectoral leadership development in global health
Witter, Sophie; orcid: 0000-0002-7656-6188; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Health Research Policy and Systems, volume 20, issue 1, article-number 103
Abstract: Background: Leadership to manage the complex political and technical challenges of moving towards universal health coverage (UHC) is widely recognized as critical, but there are few studies which evaluate how to expand capacities in this area. This article aims to fill some of this gap by presenting the methods and findings of an evaluation of the Leadership for UHC (L4UHC) programme in 2019–2020. Methods: Given the complexity of the intervention and environment, we adopted a theory-driven evaluation approach that allowed us to understand the role of the programme, amongst other factors. Data from a range of sources and tools were compared with a programme theory of change, with analysis structured using an evaluation matrix organized according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development–Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) criteria. Data sources included key informant (KI) interviews (89 in total); surveys of the 80 workshop participants; a range of secondary data sources; case studies in two countries; and observation of activities and modules by the evaluator. Results: Participants and KIs at the global and country levels reported high relevance of the programme and a lack of alternatives aiming at similar goals. In relation to effectiveness, at the individual level, there was an increase in some competencies, particularly for those with less experience at the baseline. Less change was observed in commitment to UHC as that started at a relatively high level. Understanding of UHC complexity grew, particularly for those coming from a non-health background. Connections across institutional divides for team members in-country increased, although variably across the countries, but the programme has not as yet had a major impact on national coalitions for UHC. Impacts on health policy and practice outcomes were evident in two out of seven countries. We examined factors favouring success and explanatory factors. We identified positive but no negative unintended effects. Conclusions: While noting methodological constraints, the theory-based evaluation approach is found suitable for assessing and learning lessons from complex global programmes. We conclude that L4UHC is an important addition to the global and national health ecosystem, addressing a relevant need with some strong results, and also highlight challenges which can inform other programmes with similar objectives.