Potentials and challenges of using co-design in health services research in low and middle-income countries

Publication Year: 2023
Contributing Organisation: School of Human and Health Sciences University of Huddersfield
Authors:
Learning Themes: Global Health

Co-design with people who have poor access to health services and fragile health systems in low- and middle-income countries can be momentous in bringing service users and other stakeholders together to improve the delivery and utilization of health services. There is ample evidence from high-income countries regarding how co-design can translate available evidence into developing acceptable, feasible, and adaptable health solutions in different settings. However, there is limited literature on co-design in health research in the context of low- and middle-income countries. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how knowledge about collaborative working can be translated into policy and practice in the context of low- and middle-income countries. Thus, this paper discusses the concept of co-design, co-production, and co-creation in health and the potentiality and challenges of using co-design in health services research in low- and middle-income countries. Despite the challenges, the co-design research has considerable potential to encourage the meaningful engagement of service users and other stakeholders in developing, implementing, and evaluating real-world solutions in low- and middle-income countries. It is essential to balance power dynamics in a co-design process through mutual recognition and respect, participant diversity, and reciprocity and flexibility in sharing. The inclusive and collaborative approach to working is complex due to existing rigid hierarchical structures, socio-cultural beliefs, political interference and working practices. However, this could be minimized by developing transparent terms of reference that reflect the value and benefits of equal partnership in particular co-design work.

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