Stakeholder analysis is widely recommended as a tool for gathering insights on policy actor interests in, positions on, and power to influence, health policy issues. Such information is recognized to be critical in developing viable health policy proposals, and is particularly important for new health care financing proposals that aim to secure universal coverage (UC).
However, there remain surprisingly few published accounts of the use of stakeholder analysis in health policy development generally, and health financing specifically, and even fewer that draw lessons from experience about how to do and how to use such analysis. This paper, therefore, aims to support those developing or researching UC reforms to think both about how to conduct stakeholder analysis, and how to use it to support evidence-informed pro-poor health policy development. It presents practical lessons and ideas drawn from experience of doing stakeholder analysis around UC reforms in South Africa and Tanzania, combined with insights from other relevant material. The paper has two parts. The first presents lessons of experience for conducting a stakeholder analysis, and the second, ideas about how to use the analysis to support policy design and the development of actor and broader political management strategies.
Comparison of experience across South Africa and Tanzania shows that there are some commonalities concerning which stakeholders have general interests in UC reform. However, differences in context and in reform proposals generate differences in the particular interests of stakeholders and their likely positioning on reform proposals, as well as in their relative balance of power. It is, therefore, difficult to draw cross-national policy comparisons around these specific issues. Nonetheless, the paper shows that cross-national policy learning is possible around the approach to analysis, the factors influencing judgements and the implications for, and possible approaches to, management of policy processes. Such learning does not entail generalization about which UC reform package offers most gain in any setting, but rather about how to manage the reform process within a particular context.