Editorial on new WHO initiative to strengthen evidence-informed practice

In an opinion piece for the British Medical Journal (BMJ) two Fuse experts take a closer look at the World Health Organization (WHO) Europe action plan to strengthen the use of evidence and research for policy making.

The article ‘Better evidence for smarter policy making’ is co-authored by Fuse Deputy Director David Hunter, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Dr Shelina Visram (pictured), Fuse associate and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Health.  In the editorial, the academics from Durham University write:

“As countries struggle to transform their health systems to cope with rising demand, ageing populations, and largely avoidable lifestyle related illnesses within limited budgets, policy makers are desperate for the right kind of evidence.  It is not the “what” question that preoccupies them, since the main components of health system transformation are well known and accepted, but how to implement them.

“It is therefore timely that WHO Europe is seeking to strengthen the use of evidence and research for policy making.  Its action plan was endorsed by all 53 member states at the recent regional committee meeting in Copenhagen.  The goal is to consolidate, strengthen, and promote the generation and use of multidisciplinary and intersectoral sources of evidence for making health policy in line with the health related sustainable development goals and the Health 2020 policy framework.  One of the four agreed areas for action is knowledge translation and increasing capacity in the journey from research to policy.

“Though directed at countries without robust research infrastructure and strategies, there are important implications for Western European countries like the UK with its much envied National Institute for Health Research. Merely stockpiling research that is little used or ignored is as much a problem in developed health systems, where arguably policy still owes too much to political ideology or beliefs and lacks a good grounding in evidence.  Sometimes research lacks impact because academic researchers fail to ask the questions that matter to policy makers, practitioners, and the public, or because the timelines are not aligned to the needs of policy makers.”

To read the full editorial visit: http://www.bmj.com/content/355/bmj.i6399

Last modified: Tue, 31 Jul 2018 09:13:36 BST