Evidence synthesis for health policy and systems: a methods guide

    Publication year: 2018

    Over the last two decades, major gains have been made in global health: life expectancy has increased dramatically; polio eradication is tantalizingly within reach; six million more children survived until their fifth birthday; malaria deaths halved, while more than 20 million people living with HIV gained access to lifesaving treatment. These are all colossal achievements, which amount to millions of lives saved. Despite these successes, progress has often been uneven, both between and within countries. There remains a 31-year discrepancy between the countries with the shortest and longest life expectancies, while more than half of the world’s population is unable to access health services without incurring financial hardship. The implications of this are profound. Lack of access to affordable, quality health care perpetuates a vicious cycle of poverty and ill health, and every year millions of people, mostly in the world’s poorest countries, die from sicknesses that we know how to prevent and treat. Tackling these challenges will require modern health systems that ensure services reach the poorest, the most vulnerable and those who are most often left behind. These systems must be more dynamic and multisectoral; they must move beyond a focus on diseases and curative care, and place the needs of people and communities at their core. They must also empower people to take charge of their health, with a lifelong focus on preventing the major causes of disease and ill health. Realizing this vision calls for health system reforms and policies grounded in tangible evidence for ‘what works’ and how. This is a fundamental contribution of the research community - but it means providing research evidence that is synthesized, accessible and contextualized, to enhance its applicability in different health systems. That’s what this guide is all about.

    Evidence Synthesis for Health Policy and Systems:

    A Methods Guide aims to support researchers and decision-makers, wherever they may live in the world, to generate and use high-quality evidence synthesis on health policy and systems. It outlines well-conducted, applied examples of relevant methods and techniques. I trust it will prove useful to researchers and decision-makers everywhere as they seek to play their part in promoting health, keeping the world safe, and serving the vulnerable.