Assessment 3: Briefing paper (50%)
Too often, international interventions fail or have negative impacts due to inadequate understanding of factors that influence health in a particular local context. The objective of this assignment is to give you the opportunity to explore local solutions to a global health problem, drawing on themes, debates and practices covered in the unit of study materials. The purpose is to help you to develop your analytical, leadership and advocacy skills that will be practically useful in developing and evaluating policies and programs to tackle pressing global health challenges.
Drawing on information and ideas you gathered and developed in assignment 1 (where relevant), you are required to prepare a briefing paper with recommendations for one of the following target audiences:
1) Director of an international health program;
2) Minister for Health, or director of a national health service/program; or
3) Community leader, or director of a community health service/program.
To complete the assignment, you will need to carry out an in-depth study of a global health issue in a specific local context, such as a district, province or country that is of interest and relevance to your target audience. Note: you must focus on a locality outside Australia. Your briefing paper should explain how and why the issue is a problem in your selected local context and which population groups are most affected e.g. an ethic group, refugees, women, children, slum dwellers, remote communities, people working in a particular industry.
Your briefing paper should provide a detailed account of existing strategies/steps to address the problem in the selected local context. This could include financing and technical support for specific health services/programs, and/or laws and regulations to improve relevant health outcomes. Depending on the local context being investigated, you may need to be selective and limit the scope of your analysis to only the most relevant and targeted interventions, which could be international, national or local in origin and scope. What are the strengths and weaknesses of existing approaches? Provide recommendations to address the problem more effectively. Pay special attention to the needs and concerns of vulnerable population groups.
Your briefing paper should follow the required format specified below. It should be thoroughly researched and appropriately referenced. It should be 2 000words +/-10% (not including executive summary and list of references).
Required format of briefing paper
Briefing papers are widely used by government, non-profits and industry to provide a snapshot of what is known about a particular issue, and provide recommendations for action. They are commonly produced in response to a direct request from a decision-maker, either by a member of their own staff or by an organisation that intends to advocate for the position detailed in the brief. The brief synthesises a large amount of complex information so the decision-maker can easily understand the heart of the issue, its background and significance, the failure of existing approaches, and recommendations for action. The purpose is to convince the reader of the urgency of the problem and the need to adopt the course of action outlined in the brief. Discuss the role of health professionals in adopting the course of action to be undertaken and its implications.
Target audience for the brief
The target audience for the brief must be identified on the title page. Note, the target audience must be in a position to implement the recommendations put forward.
Title of the paper
The title aims to catch the attention of the target audience and compel him/her to read on. It needs to be descriptive, punchy and relevant.
The executive summary is a short summary of the purpose of the brief and its recommendations. It should include:
A description of the problem addressed
A statement on why the current approach needs to be changed
Recommendations for action.
Context of the problem under discussion
This section aims to convince the target audience that a problem exists which requires them to take action. It should include:
A clear statement of the problem in focus: Define the problem. How, why and for whom is it problematic? Provide quantitative estimates of the problem’s magnitude and intensity(e.g., how many lives are affected, how many dollars are spent or lost). Use published data set from government and non-government organisations
An overview of the causes of the problem: When and how did it arise? Remember to consider the underlying determinants of health, that is, how is health and ill health produced and reproduced in the selected local context? Assume that you have been hired to filter through reams of information on behalf of a very busy person. Be clear, precise, and succinct
A clear statement of the implications of the problem: Why does it require action?
Review of existing approaches to resolve the problem
This section informs the reader about existing policies and programs to address the problem. It should include:
A summary of what has been done about the problem so far
An argument illustrating why and how current approaches are succeeding/failing
It is important to consider the strengths and weaknesses of as many different approaches as possible in order to inform your recommendations on how the problem can best be resolved. For clarity, you can present the pros and cons of different approaches in bullet points.
Recommendations for action
The final section of the paper sets out a recommended course of action that is rooted in the results of the analysis. It should include:
A breakdown of the specific practical steps or measures that need to be taken by the target audience to improve the problem
A closing paragraph re-emphasising the importance of action by the target audience.
Qualities of a good briefing paper
Limited – the focus of the brief needs to be limited to a specific problem in order to provide a sufficiently comprehensive argument within limited space.
Focused – all aspects of the brief should be strategically focused on convincing the target audience to adopt a particular course of action. The analysis must build on what they already know about the problem, provide insight about what they do not know about the problem, and be presented in language that reflects their values and concerns, i.e. using ideas, evidence and language that will convince them to adopt the recommendations put forward.
Evidence-based – the brief must be supported by evidence that the problem exists, and of the strengths and weaknesses of existing solutions. The reader wants to know the author’s perspective on the problem at hand, and their recommended course of action based on the evidence presented.
Practical and feasible – the brief is an action-oriented tool targeting decision makers. It must provide arguments based on what is happening in practice, and make recommendations that are realistic and plausible for the target audience to implement.
Succinct – decision-makers do not usually have the time or inclination to read an in-depth argument on a particular problem, however serious. Briefing papers do not therefore typically exceed 3 000 words. You must complete yours in just 2 000 words!
Understandable – briefing papers use clear and simple language (not the jargon and theoretical concepts of academia). They should provide a well-explained and easy-to-follow argument targeting a generalist but knowledgeable audience.
Accessible – briefing papers use clear descriptive titles and subtitles to facilitate ease of use and guide the reader.
Promotional – briefing papers use colour, images, and/or illustrative quotes to capture the attention of the reader and create a favourable impression.
The Faculty of Health Sciences uses the American Psychological Association 6th Edition (APA 6th) referencing style. Please refer to the link under Unit Outline and Information tab on the website.
Air pollution in Vietnam is increasing at an alarming rate presenting adverse health effects to the Vietnamese (Ho, Clappier, & François, 2010). The nation’s deteriorating air quality has seen it become among the worst countries globally regarding air pollution management. The major cities including Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi are choking with particulate matter and poisonous gasses. According to Hieu, Quynh, Ho, and Hens (2013), the increasing number of cars, scooters, and motorcycles on the roads has led to the dangerous emissions. For instance, almost every resident of Hanoi has a motorbike contributing to traffic and the release of the hazardous gasses. The surge in the populations in these cities and the rapid industrialization has also contributed to the air pollution. Apart from the effects on the environment and the Vietnamese residents, the challenge also adds to the problem of climate change globally.
The problem is threatening to escalate further if no stringent measures are established to curb the challenge. Currently, the strategies that Vietnam has generated to tackle the issue have not adequately managed it as seen by the rising levels of pollution. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) has created some policies that most companies and individuals term as difficult to achieve. For this reason, the atmosphere is concentrated with carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and dust. The levels are two-three times higher than the acceptable particulate amounts in the atmosphere. As a result, people have to wear nose masks and protect their bodies from the harmful gasses and particulate matter. Also, there has been a little education of the Vietnamese people regarding air pollution, health effects, and how to protect oneself from exposure. The health ministry’s medical policies also require reforms to improve health care accessibility.
Background of the Air Pollution Problem
The genesis of the problem began with the Vietnamese need to build back the economy after the war that saw the creation of many industries and urbanization activities (Ngo Tho Hung, 2010). The events saw an increased migration of the people from the rural areas to the cities causing the high congestion levels. The focus on growing the economy has led to a less concentration on the policies and issues concerning pollution. The factories processes and construction sites release both particulates and poisonous gasses to the atmosphere. Additionally, the many motorcycles used as a means of transportation emits dangerous gasses from the fuel combustion. From the Vietnam records, the number of registered motorbikes by the end of 2014 was over 43 million (Le, 2015). The use of fuel that is not clean because of the preference for cheap fuel leads to the emission of the greenhouse gasses. The traffic is hence the primary contributor of the air pollution menace…