Political economy analysis for health: editorial

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Political economy analysis for health: editorial

by Michael R Reich

Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2019;97(8):514 DOI: 10.2471/BLT.19.238311 (Open access)

“Achieving the health targets of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) depends on favourable political economy factors. Policy reform can be best understood, analysed and managed by recognizing how political economy shapes what happens in the reform process. Political economy can be broadly defined as the study of both politics and economics, specifically the interactions between them and their consequences for specific outcomes of interest.

“Political economy focuses on power and resources, how they are distributed and contested in different country and sector contexts, and the resulting implications for development outcomes. Applied political economy analysis supports policy processes in three ways. First, such analysis generates an assessment of the political landscape, including a stakeholder map, an assessment of power and position of key political actors, and an estimate of political feasibility for policy change. Second, the analysis focuses attention on how political strategies shape the feasibility of a policy reform and on the importance of politically managing the change process. Third, such analysis underlines the role of political economy factors throughout the policy cycle, including agenda-setting, policy design, adoption, implementation and evaluation.

“The health sector can make better use of knowledge about politics, power and political analysis to improve the effectiveness of its policy process. Health policy-makers recognize the need for political economy analysis; however, they often lack a clear idea of how to do it. The World Health Organization (WHO) can promote evidence-based political economy analysis to assist health policy-makers in managing change more effectively, for instance to move towards universal health coverage (UHC) or to advance other health-related SDGs…” [continues]