Using Evidence to Strengthen Health Systems in Africa and the Middle East

This project will provide evidence to expand the use of rapid response services, which offer promising strategies to support decision-making. This form of knowledge translation aims to meet the urgent needs for concrete research to answer specific questions from decision-makers in government, civil society organizations, and development partners. Research to inform policy Countries are striving to improve health outcomes by building strong and comprehensive health systems that address health inequities and reduce inefficiencies. To achieve this goal, policymakers need evidence to inform their decision-making. Finding evidence that is usable, timely, and relevant is challenging. For example, data is often fragmented across multiple information systems and research reports, and in formats that do not help decision-makers to address issues in a short timeframe. Rapid response for decision-making Rapid response approaches have the potential to address this challenge. These services use systematic reviews of research published around themes relevant to the specific questions. Effective rapid response services need to be able to receive and clarify decision-makers' requests. They should also search, appraise, and summarize the best available evidence. Researchers have piloted rapid response approaches in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Uganda, and Zambia. These services offer good potential to be scaled up nationally and replicated in other countries. Lessons learned, new services Building on the pilots, this project will inform the scale up of rapid response services within countries and across regions. The research teams will evaluate the four pilots and conduct research to better understand how to best use the services. They will also assess how to decentralize them from the national to the district levels in Uganda and Zambia. The project will establish a new rapid response service in Lebanon at the University of Beirut. This service will address priority health system issues, particularly within the context of a humanitarian crisis. The project is timely for Lebanon, a country that is working to strengthen its primary health care system to respond to current priorities such as the emerging crisis of Syrian refugees. Timely access to information The project will strengthen institutional and individual abilities to conduct and use systematic and rapid reviews to support the rapid response services. It will also provide timely access to relevant research evidence for decision-makers, and give global leaders from Africa and the Middle East deeper knowledge on how to establish and scale up rapid response services for evidence-informed decision-making to improve health outcomes.

Project ID


Project status


End Date

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


36 months

IDRC Officer

Marie-Gloriose Ingabire

Total funding

CA$ 959,700


Lebanon, Uganda, Zambia


Maternal and Child Health

Project Leader

Dr. Rhona Mijumbi


Makerere University

Institution Country


Institution Website

Project Leader

Fadi EL-Jardali


American University of Beirut

Institution Country


Institution Website

Project Leader

Dr Lonia Mwape Magolo


Zambia Forum for Health Research