What is EVIPNet ?


EVIPNet promotes the systematic use of health research evidence in policy-making. Focusing on low and middle-income countries, EVIPNet promotes partnerships 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. EVIPNet comprises networks that bring together country-level teams, which are coordinated at both regional and global levels.

'If you are poor, actually you need more evidence before you invest [in health], rather than if you are rich.' Dr Hassan Mshinda, United Republic of Tanzania

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 works best to address these problems, they risk wasting precious resources on inadequately designed programmes and policies. The direst consequence of ignoring this evidence is poor health for the population.
'All countries need to step up efforts to increase investment in health research(...). At the same time, full use should be made of scientific evidence, and we should also work to bridge gaps between decision-making and scientific research.' Chen Zhu, Minister of Health, People's Republic of China
The Ministerial Summit on Health Research in Mexico City in November 2004 focused on the need to improve the use of knowledge for better health policies. After the summit a World Health Assembly resolution in May, 2005 called on the World Health Organization: 'to establish mechanisms to transfer knowledge in support of evidence-based public health and health-care delivery systems, and evidence-based health-related policies'. In response to this call, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Evidence-Informed Policy Networks (EVIPNet) in 2005.
How we work ?
EVIPNet’s pragmatic efforts to directly support evidence-informed health systems have focused primarily on regional and national capacity-building activities to produce and plan the evaluation of policy briefs and secondarily on organizing and planning for the evaluation of national policy dialogues at which the policy briefs are discussed. In keeping with a ‘learning by doing’ approach and learning together to better work together in a sustainable, empowered way, both a senior policymaker or programme officer and a researcher from each country team produce a draft policy brief about how to address one of many current policy challenges. For instance, representatives of six EVIPNet Africa countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Zambia) and from the East African Community participated in a workshop in February 2008, in Addis Ababa to produce a draft policy brief about how to address one of many current policy challenges: how to support the widespread use of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT) to treat uncomplicated falciparum malaria in their respective countries. They are currently in the process of reviewing and finalizing the policy brief.

EVIPNet country teams and expert members of its Resource Group provide opportunities for:
  •       identifying priority policy issues and questions;
  •       checking the quality of available systematic reviews, guidelines, and other relevant research results to help identify and/or formulate policy options that better address health systems issues. In this process, country teams then move on to consider whether to confirm or change delivery, financial, and governance arrangements that must be put in place to address a priority issue. Finally, country teams may consider how best to support the necessary changes to the behaviour of those involved in the implementation of the policy at all levels (policy makers, public health managers, care-givers, community health workers, and communities of users of the health system). The country teams draw on several overviews of systematic reviews, including ones examining the effects of alternative delivery, financial and governance arrangements, supporting behaviour change, and many single studies that had been conducted in their own country or region.
  •       Each country team prepares a policy brief presenting at least three viable policy options for addressing the selected priority issue. each comprising different “bundles” of the aforementioned delivery, financial and governance arrangements within their respective health systems, and potential strategies for supporting the implementation of the policy options. Also helpful is the identification of 'policy paths,' that facilitate the understanding of who are the main stakeholders in the implementation of these specific policies (including in other sectors outside the health sector). Each policy option is accompanied by an assessment about what can reasonably be expected (in terms of both costs and consequences) in the country’s health system by pursuing each of the policy options, as well as a description of any gaps in our understanding about what can be expected. The assessments are based on the best available research evidence that had been examined for its quality and local applicability and for equity and scaling up considerations.
  •       Another key step in the EVIPNet knowledge translation process is that each country team convene a national policy dialogue, and invite senior government officials and key stakeholders (including civil society groups) to participate in a discussion about how both the public and private sector can best support addressing the selected priority issue. The policy brief will be a key input to this discussion, but so too will be local information about on-the-ground realities and constraints, values, interest group dynamics, tacit knowledge, best practices, and institutional constraints.
  •       The whole process is monitored and evaluated to make sure we learn and disseminate best practices in evidence-informed policy-making.
EVIPNet Activities
EVIPNet activities at the country level are jointly led by local policy-makers and researchers and are designed to meet the specific needs of each country. Country activities currently supported under the EVIPNet umbrella include:
  • Production of policy briefs and other user-friendly formats for research synthesis and discussions of policy options
  • Establishment of priority-setting mechanisms for policy-relevant research syntheses and primary research;
  • Production of research syntheses;
  • Production of policy briefs and other user-friendly formats for research syntheses and discussions of policy options;
  • Organization of 'safe haven' deliberative forums involving policymakers, and researchers and citizens groups to stimulate context-specific, evidence-informed local action;
  • Investigation of the potential of clearinghouses, observatories and rapid response mechanisms that might provide timely, high-quality research syntheses and research relevant to policy.
In addition, at the regional and global levels EVIPNet supports:
  • Capacity strengthening and empowerment of policy-makers, researchers, representatives of civil society to enable them to make better use of evidence in policy-making and advocacy;
  • Interactive learning processes building on experiences to improve evidence-to-policy methods;
  • Monitoring and evaluation processes that document the lessons learned from the use of an array of evidence-to-policy processes in different contexts.
  • Information exchange - disseminating successful methods and tools, experience and best practices among partners and other countries, mostly through the EVIPNet Portal –an internet-based platform, and WHO country offices.
'The [Ethiopian] Ministry of Health fully supports EVIPNet. I strongly believe that [EVIPNet] policy briefs will help policymakers to control [diseases]...in their respective countries.' Dr Tedros Adhanom, Minister of Health, Ethiopia

EVIPNet - Evidence Informed Policy Network
WHO - 20 Avenue Appia CH1211 Geneva
Tel: (+4122) 791-3175 • Fax: (+4122) 791-4169 E-mail : evipnet@who.int