Africa Centre for Systematic Reviews and Knowledge Translation
There is increasing global recognition of the need to link research evidence to policy decisions and practice. However, health policy leaders have failed to fully apply research findings to formulate policies, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Several initiatives focused on bridging the "know-do" gap emphasize capacity building and the use of evidence briefs for policy, policy dialogues, and rapid response mechanisms. But researchers and policymakers have invested little effort in producing systematic reviews to support these initiatives, despite documented skills gaps in reading and understanding evidence. Previous reports found that systematic reviews are skewed toward findings from high-income countries, meaning that research evidence is not always relevant to health workers' and policymakers' concerns in low-income countries. This highlights the need to develop rigorous, contextually based evidence synthesis skills. This project will help researchers, policymakers, and institutions in Uganda and East Africa develop the skills and knowledge they need to craft and implement evidence-based health policies. The support will create a strong evidence-base relevant to national and regional priorities. It will also strengthen the links between researchers and policymakers. Activities will include: - priority-setting workshops; - customized training workshops; and, - hands-on mentorship opportunities. Through these activities, participants will produce and share reviews focused on Millennium Development Goals 4, 5, and 6, which address maternal health, child health, and specific communicable diseases. Training will be provided to participants from Uganda. Researchers from East Africa will also participate through existing networks and targeted support for young and emerging researchers. This grant will also fund the establishment of the Africa Center for Systematic Reviews and Knowledge Translation. The Center will build long-term capacity in evidence-informed health policy and action in Uganda and East Africa. It will also establish greater self-reliance for evidence synthesis and knowledge translation to bridge the gaps between research and health policy. The Center's training, publications, and activities will help integrate health equity into health systems, meaning greater equity along social and gender lines. The Center will help advance the field of health systems and policy research. Finally, this project will support a workshop to evaluate an innovative approach to policy influence, known as the "Rapid Response Mechanism," which provides timely evidence synthesis briefs at the request of policymakers. Four countries in sub-Saharan Africa have implemented Rapid Response Mechanisms. Each has its own challenges and innovations. The workshop will support collaborative work to develop the design and conceptual framework for evaluation across the four countries (Uganda, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Zambia).