Dear HIFA colleagues
WHO EMRO: NEDtP members meet to accelerate action on evidence-informed policy-making in the region
WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, Science, Information, Dissemination Division, Evidence and Data to Policy Unit, Cairo, Egypt, December 2020
Identifying key policy priorities for the region and connecting with stakeholders for evidence-informed policy-making is an important WHO agenda NEDtP members met on 30 March to agree on ways to enhance national and institutional capacity, share experiences and highlight urgent needs in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is needed to strengthen regional and national capacity for health policy-making?
Health policies need to be based on sound evidence to ensure that they are appropriate, effective and cost-effective. In this context, and building on the 2019 landmark Resolution (EM/RC66/R.5), where the establishment of a regional network of institutions to enhance the use of evidence for health policy development was requested from Regional Office, the First Formal Meeting for the Regional Network of Institutions for Evidence and Data to Policy (NEDtP) to enhance National Capacity for Evidence-Informed Policy-Making was convened on 30 March 2021.
The meeting was inaugurated by Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, the Regional Director, and Dr Rana Hajjeh, the Director of Programme Management, with a welcome note by Dr Arash Rashidian, Director for Science, Information and Dissemination. National member institutions as well as supporting institutions participated in the meeting to discuss and agree on how to support Member States through the NEDtP and strengthen national and institutional capacity to use evidence to inform policy-making in the region.
Summary of Discussions: Opportunities and Ways Forward
Using evidence in a timely manner in response to the challenges caused by COVID-19 was highlighted by participants, and further echoed in success stories of rapid responses to COVID-19 shared by the National Institute of Health Research in Iran and the Knowledge to Policy Center in Lebanon.
NEDtP members’ feedback were also received on four key items and discussed in working groups. These included 1) “the identification of high priority health problems in the region for development of Regional policy briefs”, 2) “plans to develop an efficient function for NEDtP”, 3) “the identification of needs to enhance the national capacity for evidence-informed policy-making” and 4) “the identification of needs to enhance the institutional capacity for evidence-informed policy-making”.
From these discussions a set of agreements were reached. For policy briefs, participants underscored the urgency to ensure quality and transparency in rapid evidence synthesis, recognizing this as a priority topic during COVID-19 and with potential relevance in post-pandemic contexts. Policy briefs were also recommended to identify processes to inform the development of context-specific packages such as for universal health coverage, and priorities like antibiotic resistance and global warming were also voiced. Different types of policy briefs across local, national, regional and global levels were also suggested.
Regarding the functioning of the NEDtP, it was agreed to meet at least twice a year, with clear expectations to be set for progress needed in between meetings, and with continuous communications across different online platforms. The NEDtP Secretariat is expected to provide regular monitoring and feedback on institutions’ progress, and to continue to highlight success stories.
In the discussions on enhancing national capacity, it was agreed to focus on and build ownership within Ministries of Health. To do this, developing tools for conducting situational analysis were suggested, alongside frameworks, workshops and manuals. Regular monitoring and communications with Ministries of Health is expected in order to contribute to the identification of health priorities.
To enhance institutional capacity, it was agreed that there is a need for the NEDtP Secretariat to formally recognize collaborating and supporting institutions, and respective roles and responsibilities. Within institutions, standardizing ways of working was highlighted as an important need, and joint efforts across institutions to map out and identify opportunities for collaboration and complementarity were agreed upon.
The meeting was concluded by affirming the high relevance of the work of NEDtP and emphasizing the continued commitment to continue collaborative efforts with members, including through the development of multiple tools to accelerate evidence-informed policy-making in the region.
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Recent key publication: Health and Well-Being in the Eastern Mediterranean Region in 2019
Arash Rashidian MD PhD
Division of Science, Information and Dissemination (SID)
Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office
World Health Organization
A new framework for evidence-informed policy making for health - 3min video
HIFA profile: Arash Rashidian is Director of Science, Information and Dissemination at WHO EMRO in Egypt. Email address: rashidiana AT WHO.int