Discussion Series

Research Agenda Setting

During the co-creation series last year, participants identified a need to continue discussions on how to effectively engage policy makers and other end-users, navigate in fragile states or during times of crisis, and continue to build capacity to ensure alignment of research agenda with government broadly for agenda-setting activities.

In response, Action Group 5 is organizing a series of discussions, starting with a panel inviting senior policymakers and HPSRIs to share insights on how to establish research priorities that would promote the use of evidence in policy making in countries that have lower capacity for evidence-based policy making.

The discussion series is now complete and was held from February-May 2022 and featured policymakers, CSOs, and funders.

Panel 1



Objectives of the first discussion include:

To share insights on how to establish research priorities that would promote the use of evidence in policy making in countries that have lower capacity for evidence-based policy making. This includes contexts where:

A) Health is a sub-national issue (e.g., India, Indonesia, China, Nepal, Philippines) and for which policy decisions differ across 
 the country

B) There is limited functioning government and/or fragile states


Manuel M. Dayrit MD, MSc

Adjunct Professor and Former Dean, Atenea School of Medicine and Public Health

Manuel M. Dayrit has been a public health practitioner for 45 years. He has worked in the public, private, NGO, and international sectors as well as in academia. He served as Secretary of Health, WHO Director, and Dean of a medical school.


Dr. T. Sundararaman MBSS, MD

Former Executive Director, National Health Systems Resource Center

Professor T. Sundararaman is now retired and staying in Pondicherry. His career has included an important contribution to academics, a major contribution to making and implementing health policy, and an active role in civil society organizations, building and guiding many peoples science and health movements.

Panel 2



The second discussion will explore the role of civil society organizations in influencing the research agenda setting process 
in fragile or conflict affected states and supporting the development of a resilient health system. This discussion will revolve around the following questions:

  1. In situations where the government does not have a big footprint in service delivery/health system strengthening, how do you identify research needs and ensure that these align with government priorities?
  2. CSOs are traditionally program/population/location specific. How do you amplify the findings/learnings from implementing a narrow mandate to reach a wider audience, particularly policymakers?
  3. How do you share findings from your implementation research to generate impact on the wider health system?

Dr. Prashanth N Srinivas

Assistant Director for Education of the Institute of Public Health, India

Prashanth N Srinivas is a medical doctor and public health researcher with experience working in primary health care and community settings in southern Karnataka. He has worked at the intersections of healthcare and health systems with ecological and social systems with a particular focus on health inequities and social determinants of health.


Dr. Sushil Chandra Baral

Managing Director of HERD International, Nepal

Dr Sushil Chandra Baral is an experienced health and development expert in Nepal, specialising in health systems strengthening and health policy and planning at the national and international level. He has twenty-five years of experience in health systems and services, health policy and planning, operational research, and social development sector in developing countries context. He has considerable professional experience in health system, health policy and planning, health service delivery, health research, and programme management.

Panel 3



The third and final discussion in this series will explore the role development partners and funding play in influencing how research agenda setting is prioritized. This discussion will focus on the following questions:

  1. In developing countries, especially in fragile states, how do multiple funding streams from development partners influence research priorities?
  2. How does foreign funding impact on priority setting in developing countries?

Eduardo Banzon

Principal Health Specialist, Southeast Asia Department, Asian Development Bank

Dr. Eduardo P. Banzon or Dodo Banzon is a Principal Health Specialist in the Southeast Asia Regional Department (SERD) of the Asian Development Bank, and Honorary Visiting Associate Professor in the National University of Singapore Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.


Sarbani Chakraborty

Senior Program Director, Results for Development

Dr. Sarbani Chakraborty is a recognized global health leader with over 20 years of experience shaping resilient and sustainable health systems in Africa, Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East, and Asia working with the public and private sectors.


Benoit Mathivet

Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Blended Finance, Global Fund

Benoit Mathivet is currently the Manager for Strategic Partnerships and Blended Finance as part of the Health Finance Department of the Global Fund where he promotes the use of innovative health financing instruments to leverage more resources for health system strengthening and the fight against the AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Facilitator and Action Group


Dr. Leizel Lagrada-Rombaua

Senior Fellow, Results for Development

Dr. Leizel Lagrada-Rombaua is a Senior Fellow at Results for Development and the President and Owner of GECC Developmental Services OPC. Her areas of work cover health systems reforms, focusing on health financing and health service delivery, policy analysis and health systems research, quality assurance, monitoring and evaluation, and collaborative learning.

Dr. Nima Asgari-Jirhandeh

Director, Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, WHO

Dr. Nima Asgari was trained in public health medicine in London and has been working in the field since 1996. He has been with WHO since 2006 where he worked at their HQ in Geneva as well as China, Cambodia, and Thailand country offices. Nima became the director of the Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (APO) in October 2016.

His focus is on expanding membership of APO, increasing the range and number of APO publications, and most importantly, increasing the capacity of health system research in the region and shifting the evidence to policy. Before joining WHO, Nima worked in UK for the Health Protection Agency, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and local health authorities in London and environs, providing public health services to local population.

Dr. Kyu Kyu Than

Senior Technical Coordinator, Myanmar Program, Burnet Institute

Dr. Than is a medical doctor with a double masters degree in tropical diseases and social science research. She was awarded her PhD in 2018. A career teacher and researcher, she specializes in maternal and child health and young people’s health, with research emphasis on poor and vulnerable populations. A three-time winner of the Best Paper award for Health Systems Research by the Ministry of Health in Myanmar, she has also been involved in more than 20 research projects as a principal investigator and has published more than 15 research articles. Her main interest is to help poor and vulnerable populations through evidence-based policy research.

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