EVIPNet multi-country workshop on using research evidence for policy-making

On 9-11 October 2013, WHO/Europe, through its Division of Health Information, Evidence, Research and Innovation and its Evidence-informed Policy Network (EVIPNet), brought together stakeholders involved in translating data and research evidence into policy from 15 Member States.

The EVIPNet meeting organized sessions jointly and in parallel with the Autumn School on Health Information and Evidence for Policy-making, a joint venture between WHO/Europe and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) of the Netherlands.

The goals of the workshop were to:

  • increase general understanding of evidence-informed policy-making (EIP);
  • raise awareness about tools and resources available to support the use of research evidence in health policy-making, including EVIPNet; and
  • identify what participants can undertake to foster an environment favourable for knowledge translation in their countries.

“We hope that, by being a part of EVIPNet, we will increase our capacity to develop evidence based policies and not only to develop them, but to also have support when launching a policy that is evidence based,” said Dr Cristina Vladu, Personal Counselor of the Minister of Health, Romania.

The 3-day agenda comprised introductory presentations and group/ plenary discussions on EIP, key EIP methods (on how to clarify problems, frame policy options, identify and select relevant data and/or research evidence); and tools (evidence briefs for policy and policy dialogues).

Furthermore, through presentations and case studies, participants were familiarized with the vision, mission, processes and activities of EVIPNet worldwide, with particular focus on the processes facilitated by the EVIPNet Europe Secretariat to establish EVIPNet knowledge translation platforms in the European Region.

Heads of country offices, country staff members and knowledge translation champions from Albania, Estonia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Ukraine took part in the workshop.

Country team work

Introductory sessions were complemented by presentations and group discussions on funding opportunities and on the importance of monitoring and evaluation for EIP activities.  Participants worked in country teams (a head of country office and a national champion) to develop situational analyses of their countries’ EIP situation using the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis method.

In the same country group format, participants developed initial ideas on establishing EVIPNet knowledge translation platforms in their countries. As a vital part of EIP, communication advocacy methods were discussed and practised in the country groups by designing tailored and targeted EIP messages to be delivered through mass media. Interfaces with the Health 2020 policy framework and the utilization of health information were sought.

Key driving forces and barriers for EIP in the European region were identified.  In addition, based on their work in country groups, participants developed roadmaps of short- and medium-term EIP activities to be implemented in their countries. This was seen as a key strength of the workshop.

“I think the best outcome of this workshop was that it enabled me to have open and constructive discussions with the national champion, come up with a clear road map based on the gaps and situational analysis that created an understanding of what needed to be improved and what needed to be addressed. That ensures me that work in this area will continue”, commented Dr Marge Reinap, Head of WHO Country Office, Estonia.