Evidence-based Decision Making

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EVIPNet - October 2009

PAHO and WHO are promoting the Evidence-Informed Policy Network (EVIPNet) initiative as a ways and means to contribute to national efforts for better decision making. EVIPNet is about Policy makers, Researchers and Citizens learning working together to improve policy making. Policy Briefs (PB) offer policy options informed by research results.


EVIPNet is an innovative initiative to promote the systematic use of health research evidence in policy making. Focusing on low - and middle-income countries, EVIPNet promotes partnership at the country level between policy makers, researchers and civil society in order to facilitate both policy development and policy implementation through the use of the best scientific evidence available.  

Low - and middle-income countries have scarce resources to address their health system challenges and need high-quality evidence to use those resources efficiently. Scientific evidence is a fundamental building block to improve the public health situation. If health sector managers and policy makers ignore evidence on the root causes of problems or what woks best to address these problems, they risk wasting precious resources on inadequately designed programmes and policies The direct consequence of ignoring this evidence is poor health for the population.

Knowledge derives from research and experience is of little value unless it is put into practice, and its success monitored and regularly evaluated. Closing the gap between what we know will work to improve health and what is put into practice around the world could millions of lives over the coming decade. This requires a better understanding of how to promote the uptake and implementation of interventions and policies already shown to be effective.

Public-health and health-system policies based on sound scientific evidence and best practices can improve health and equity, and the use of research results is essential for health and development. Yet, accessing and incorporating research evidence to inform decision making does not occur systematically, but is especially critical in lo-income and middle-income countries that face tremendous health challenges with insufficient resources.

PAHO and WHO are actively working to address this issue. Evidence-Informed Policy Network (EVIPNet) arose from the Ministerial Summit on Health Research in Mexico City in 2004 and a resolution adopted by the 58th World Health Assembly in 2005.

The goal of EVIPNet is to improve public health and reduce inequities by increasing the systematic use of and access o high-quality applicable evidence that guides the development of policies, and helps to identify and priorities knowledge gaps that need attention. EVIPNet addresses important issues as identified by individual countries, such as maternal and child health, HIV and AIDS control, immunization, and infectious diseases, as well as health-system challenges such as financing, distribution of health workers, and governance. EVIPNet’s framework is base on current evidence on effective strategies for knowledge dissemination that are adapted for local context.

EVIPNet has been set up in several regions; it started in Asia in 2005 (with teams in Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, and three teams in China), and Africa in 2006 (with teams in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Niger and Zambia).

The next wave of EVIPNet is being led by PAHO in the Americas. In 2007, PAHO, through its country offices, identified countries that had requested technical cooperation for promoting evidence-informed decision making. Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, México, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad & Tobago were identified as the first round of EVIPNET participants. Local commitment, as well as the support of health authorities, was essential in planning and developing EVIPNet.

In July 2007, EVIPNet was introduced to country teams. In addition, PAHO assembled a strong international resource group with expertise in knowledge transfer for policy making. An evidence portal was launched in 2007 to provide access to reliable evidence sources; the portal was developed jointly by PAHO and BIREME.

Participant countries have shown tremendous interest commitment to EVIPNet. Successful implementation of EVIPNet in the Americas depends on several factors. Ministries of health need to live up to their commitment to EVIPNet by creating mechanism and long-term strategies that encourage the use of evidence to shape policies, while stimulating a dialogue with the producers of research evidence EVIPNet teams. No single person or organization can influence systematic change; however if the collective commitment of EVIPNet’s goals currently displayed is any indication of potential future impact, we are on the right track toward ensuring hat research evidence is systematically used to improve health.

Last Updated on Friday, 26 March 2010 13:22