Health ministries are increasingly under pressure to use research evidence to inform their policy decisions so as to improve health systems thereby attaining universal health coverage. This calls for robust processes to engage with research evidence and effectively use this evidence in policymaking and practice. Whilst most research and evidence synthesis processes take some time most of the policy decisions have to be made quickly. Evidence informed decision-making by policymakers therefore requires a sustainable rapid response mechanism to quickly generate, synthesise and communicate required evidence for decisionmaking, coupled with capacity to demand and effectively utilise the evidence made available.
Rapid syntheses of research findings, including rapid response briefs, are among some of the more promising strategies currently emerging to help address the challenges to, and facilitate policymakers’ use of, research evidence for policy. Rapid evidence syntheses is usually time-sensitive and context specific. Rapid response briefs are evidence products that present a summary of the best available evidence synthesised and contextualised manner in direct response to a decision-maker’s question. The synthesis is normally done using systematic review principles.
ZeipNET has partnered the Ministry of Health and Child Care to embed a platform for rapid reviews in health systems decision-making within the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) as part of the ‘Embedding Rapid Reviews in Health Systems Decision Making in Zimbabwe’ (ERAZ) project. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (AHPSR) fund the ERAZ project.
The project will ensure:
- That an ERAZ platform is developed, embedded and sustained within the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
- That the MoHCC acquires the current skills and knowledge levels in conducting rapid reviews and produce evidence synthesis products like, policy briefs and other evidence summaries that are friendly and easy to use for policy and decision makers.
- That a wider ecosystem or institutional landscape exists with networks to facilitate production, synthesis and use of research evidence in health policy and practice.
- The development of a continuously updated online knowledge repository of policy relevant evidence to support informed policy and decision-making
It is envisaged the ERAZ will improve the MoHCC health policy and decision making systems and processes through addressing barriers of timeliness, relevance and context specificity of research evidence at the critical time it is needed. This will in turn result in the MoHCC policies becoming responsive to the national health needs and priorities.
Saul JE, Willis CD, Bitz J, Best A. A time-responsive tool for informing policymaking: rapid realist review. Implement Sci. 2013;8:103.
Mijumbi-Deve, Rhona et al.Health Research Policy and Systems 2017 15:37. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12961-017-0200-1