Many will be familiar with the need for "research to policy" or R2P. But that in itself is a shortened form of "research to policy to practice" or R2P2P. Clearly, health policies should be based on the best and most appropriate research. But that is not enough. If sound health policies don't then go into clinical practice, they are just empty words. Effort needs to be devoted to each link in this chain.
Najeeb al-Shorbaji hit the nail on the head last year when he wrote in a submission to this email list: "Health workers and most practitioners in the field do not need scientific articles written by academicians. They need practical information, best practices, case studies, stories from the field, lessons learned and guidance on how to do things".
At Africa Health journal, that is precisely what we have tried to do since launch in October 1978.
Healthcare organisations are increasingly providing information and services using digital technologies - online and mobile. But we risk widening health inequalities because the people who most need healthcare are the least likely to be online (in particular older people, people with low incomes, people with lower educational levels, and people in rural areas with poor broadband connectivity).
I wonder how good NHS Choices is and whether each country should have its own “health website” or if it could somehow be streamlined. Is there a case for interlinking wit the Medical Wikipedia better so that efforts are not duplicated? Is NHC Choices perhaps already using content from Medical Wikipedia, or vice versa?
Online information seeking is a skill which some people, including patients, have acquired rather better than others.
What are the implications of low per-capita income on evidence-informed country-level policymaking?
I would like to suggest the following for discussion:
a. The systematic and transparent use of evidence to inform policy-making is just as important, if not more so, in low-income countries than in high-income countries. Wastage of even small amounts is likely to have greater impacts on public health.
'There is no point in taking the time to make evidence-based solutions easier to understand if policymakers are no longer interested. Successful advocates recognise the value of emotional appeals and simple stories to draw attention to a problem...'
Kenya: African Health Ministers Sign Declaration to Increase Use of Vaccines
Below are extracts from a news item on the AllAfrica website. In the context of our current discussion, this demonstrates a powerful way forward to promote evidence-informed policymaking. Namely, the power of a high-level, pan-African conference where presidents and senior ministers can reach a shared understanding of issues and priorities, and join hands in solidarity...
I am reminded that back in 19921993, the leading UK newspaper, The Sunday Times, ran a series of articles arguing that the AIDS epidemic in Africa was a myth. The articles claimed that antiviral therapy was ineffective, HIV testing unreliable, and that AIDS was not a threat to heterosexuals.
A separate public health issue is the MMR controversy, where 'The media have been criticized for their naive reporting and for lending undue credibility to the architect of the fraud, Andrew Wakefield'.
I make an observation that I made recently during my "day job" in West Africa.