The Cochrane Collaboration, a nonprofit organization that conducts systematic reviews of health-related research, is seeking to become a “truly global” provider of evidence for health care and health policy, representatives of the organization said in an April 12 presentation at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). Toward that end, Cochrane is working to significantly expand translations of its materials, provide open access to many of its reviews and other research products, enhance research standards and methods, and enlarge its network of “Cochranites” around the world.“We have a strong presence as an English-language organization, but we recognize that we need to drive ourselves to become truly global in new ways,” said Mark Wilson, chair of Cochrane Collaboration Global. “We want to maintain and expand Cochrane as a vibrant membership organization that is better known and even more influential around the world.”
Founded in 1993, the Cochrane Collaboration is today the largest global network of scientists, researchers, health policymakers and consumer advocates working together to produce systematic reviews of health-related evidence. Its network includes some 28,000 individuals in 120 countries, most of them seasoned professionals who work on a voluntary basis.
PAHO/WHO has cooperation agreements with both the Iberoamerican Cochrane Center and the Canadian Cochrane Center. Recent joint activities have included support for the Evidence Informed Policy Network (EVIPNet Americas) to promote evidence for public health policies in the Americas, the establishment of a Cochrane “node” at the University of the West Indies to train Caribbean researchers, capacity development through regular live and recorded webinars, and offering of a joint award to promote the development of research protocols and systematic reviews of priority PAHO issues, including health systems research, neglected diseases, and prevention of noncommunicable diseases. Earlier collaboration included support for the development of the Reproductive Health Library in cooperation with the Latin American Center for Perinatology and Human Development (CLAP) in Uruguay.
Cochrane reviews involve a rigorous process of gathering, assessing and synthesizing research on the effectiveness of health interventions. Archie Cochrane, a Scottish public health expert and policymaker, inspired the organizers of the collaboration, which initially focused on clinical care. However, Cochrane has progressively incorporated public health and equity issues into its reviews. Recent examples include the use of bed nets for prevention of malaria, deworming interventions, and the relationship between density of liquor stores and health impacts.
“Our goal is to evaluate evidence about health-care interventions. But that does not just mean medications; we look in a broad way at health-care interventions and we try to incorporate equity aspects,” said Jordi Pardo, of Ottawa University’s Centre for Global Health and a collaborator with the Iberoamerican Cochrane Centre.
To help expand its network of “Cochranites,” the organization is currently working to build capacity in lower- and middle-income countries for carrying out systematic reviews. It also plans to develop new products to “enhance interactivity and better address end-user needs,” said Wilson.
Participants in the presentation at PAHO/WHO also included Kay Dickerson, professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of the U.S. Cochrane Collaboration, and Roberta Scherer, associate Director of the US Cochrane Center and US Satellite of the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group.
- PAHO Research Promotion and Development
- Cochrane Collaboration
- Canadian Cochrane Center
- Iberoamerican Cochrane Center
- The Cochrane Library