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The politics of 'branding' in policy transfer: the case of DOTS for tuberculosis control


  • Ogden, Jessica
  • Walt, Gill
  • Lush, Louisiana


How and why policies are transferred between countries has attracted considerable interest from scholars of public policy over the last decade. This paper, based on a larger study, sets out to explore the processes involved in policy transfer between international and national levels. These processes are illustrated by looking at a particular public health policy--DOTS for the control and treatment of tuberculosis. The paper demonstrates how, after a long period of neglect, resources were mobilised to put tuberculosis back on international and national public policy agendas, and then how the policy was 'branded' and marketed as DOTS, and transferred to low and middle income countries. It focuses specifically on international agenda setting and policy formulation, and the role played by international organisations in those processes. It shows that policy communities, and particular individuals within them, may take political rather than technical positions in these processes, which can result in considerable contestation. The paper ends by suggesting that while it is possible to raise the profile of a policy dramatically through branding and marketing, success also depends on external events providing windows of opportunity for action. Second, it warns that simplifying policy approaches to 'one-size-fits-all' carries inherent risks, and can be perceived to harm locally appropriate programmes. Third, top-down internationally driven policy changes may lead to apparent policy transfer, but not necessarily to successfully implemented programmes.

Suggested Citation

  • Ogden, Jessica & Walt, Gill & Lush, Louisiana, 2003. "The politics of 'branding' in policy transfer: the case of DOTS for tuberculosis control," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 179-188, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:57:y:2003:i:1:p:179-188

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    Cited by:

    1. Atun, Rifat A. & Baeza, Juan & Drobniewski, Francis & Levicheva, Vera & Coker, Richard J., 2005. "Implementing WHO DOTS strategy in the Russian Federation: stakeholder attitudes," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 122-132, October.
    2. Sandberg, Kristin Ingstad & Andresen, Steinar & Bjune, Gunnar, 2010. "A new approach to global health institutions? A case study of new vaccine introduction and the formation of the GAVI Alliance," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(7), pages 1349-1356, October.
    3. Chataway, Joanna & Smith, James, 2006. "The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI): Is It Getting New Science and Technology to the World's Neglected Majority?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 16-30, January.
    4. Sheikh, Kabir & Porter, John, 2010. "Discursive gaps in the implementation of public health policy guidelines in India: The case of HIV testing," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(11), pages 2005-2013, December.
    5. Gagnon, France & Turgeon, Jean & Dallaire, Clemence, 2007. "Healthy public policy: A conceptual cognitive framework," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 42-55, April.
    6. Behague, Dominique & Tawiah, Charlotte & Rosato, Mikey & Some, Télésphore & Morrison, Joanna, 2009. "Evidence-based policy-making: The implications of globally-applicable research for context-specific problem-solving in developing countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(10), pages 1539-1546, November.
    7. French, Catherine E. & Ferlie, Ewan & Fulop, Naomi J., 2014. "The international spread of Academic Health Science Centres: A scoping review and the case of policy transfer to England," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 382-391.
    8. Engel, Nora, 2009. "Innovation Dynamics in Tuberculosis Control in India: The Shift to New Partnerships," MERIT Working Papers 040, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    9. Amo-Adjei, Joshua & Kumi-Kyereme, Akwasi & Fosuah Amo, Hannah & Awusabo-Asare, Kofi, 2014. "The politics of tuberculosis and HIV service integration in Ghana," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 42-49.
    10. Engel, Nora, 2008. "Drivers and Barriers of Innovation Dynamics in Healthcare - Towards a framework for analyzing innovation in Tuberculosis control in India," MERIT Working Papers 077, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    11. Lewin, Simon & Green, Judith, 2009. "Ritual and the organisation of care in primary care clinics in Cape Town, South Africa," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(8), pages 1464-1471, April.
    12. Stephen Jan & Vangal R Muraleedharan & Sonia Andrews & Bhuvaneswari Rajaraman, 2010. "Private Sector in the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme: A Study of the Implementation of Private-Public Partnership Strategy in Tamil Nadu and Kerala (India)," Working Papers id:2696, eSocialSciences.


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