Evidence-informed policy making within and beyond health: Lessons learnt from initiatives using different forms of engagement

This session is linked to Plenary 1: EVIDENCE FOR AFRICA: How evidence is changing communities across one continent 

Developing policy and implementing it is complex. To inform the decision-making process, the actors need reliable research evidence which is fit for purpose. Engagement between researchers and policy makers, and timing/timeliness increase both the usefulness of research and the prospects for research use. There is increasing interest in co-development and co-production of research evidence, and engaging end-users is key to this process. This session will feature lessons learnt from initiatives using a range of different forms of engagement between the relevant actors. 

Short presentations by panelists (10 minutes each)



Key questions that will be covered

Rapid Response ServicesRhona Mijumbi
  • What approach did you take?
  • Barriers/facilitators?
  • What difference did engagement make to: a) the usefulness of the evidence; and, b) its use in decision making?
Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation - Co-production of evidenceHarsha Dayal
GESI - Strenthening capacities in LMICsFadi El-Jardali
Policy BUDDIESPierre Ongolo Zogo

Panel discussion (30 minutes)

Panelists to consider:

  • What do policy makers want?
  • What are the key success factors for meaningful engagement?
  • Competing interest - relevance vs. validity of research process?

Round up

Brief biographies of panelists:

Session Chair: Etienne V. Langlois, WHO Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research. 
Etienne V. Langlois is an epidemiologist specialized in health systems research, maternal and neonatal health care services, and evidence synthesis. Trained in medicine, global public health and epidemiology, he is affiliated with the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, based at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva. He manages portfolios of work on primary health care, implementation research and health systems strengthening, placing evidence-to-policy at the centre of its scientific activities. Dr Langlois has conducted research on skilled birth attendance and postnatal care services in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), as well as methods to advance embedded research and health systems research synthesis. He recently co-edited the publication titled Rapid Reviews to Strengthen Health Policy and Systems: A Practical Guide, and published in scientific journals including The Lancet, BMJ Open, and the Bulletin of WHO. His previous positions include researcher and lecturer in clinical epidemiology and global health at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Montreal, Canada. He lived in Burkina Faso and worked in various LMICs, an experience which led him to be a strong advocate of evidence-informed interventions to support health equity and universal health coverage.

Rhona Mijumbi is a public health physician, and health policy analyst and evaluator based at Makerere University, College of Health Sciences. A graduate of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Makerere University, Uganda) and of International Public Health (University of Queensland, Australia), Dr Mijumbi is also a doctoral candidate of health policy at Makerere University having completed her coursework at McMaster University, Canada. She is an experienced researcher and knowledge-translation specialist, having led the establishment of the REACH Policy Initiative (Uganda) rapid response service for health systems evidence, the first of its kind in a low- and middle-income country. She is involved in ongoing research focused on health systems and policy in low-income countries. 

Ms Harsha Dayal - Director: Research Management, Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, South Africa. Ms Dayal currently works as the director of research in the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation within the Presidency of South Africa. Research experience in poverty, public health, gender and disability studies gained during her employment at the Human Sciences Research Council from 2007 to 2014 has provided her with the necessary experience and skills in bridging the research community and policy makers towards critical national priorities grounded in the Social Sciences. She has a Master’s degree in Public Health and is a qualified Occupational Therapist serving the public-health sector from 1993 to 2007. In addition, she provided secretariat support during the development of the National Health Insurance and currently serves on several reference groups as a researcher and senior public manager. She strives towards bringing together the two worlds of research and policy in transforming society and pursuing developmental objectives. 

Fadi El-Jardali is based at the American University of Beirut where he holds the following positions: Associate Professor of Health Policy and Systems; Director of the Knowledge to Policy (K2P) Center; Co-Director of the WHO Center for Systematic Reviews in Health Policy and Systems Research (SPARK); Research Program Director for the Research, Advocacy and Public Policy (RAPP) Program in the Arab World at Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs; and Co-Director of the Nodal institute. He is also an Associate Professor (part-time) at the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University. His research activities, publications and interest are focused on health policy making, knowledge translation, governance, performance reporting for health systems and organisations, quality of care, accreditation, patient safety, and human resources for health. He has led multi-country initiatives and projects in several countries and regions. He has published in international and regional peer-reviewed, high-impact-factor journals. He has worked and held senior positions with policy analysis-related organisations such as the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (as Hospital Consultant), federal department of health / Health Canada (as Senior Policy Advisor), and the Health Council of Canada (as Health Economist and Program Manager). 

Pierre Ongolo-Zogo, Director of the Centre for the Development of Best Practices in Health (CDBPH) in Cameroon, has extensive involvement at the international level in strengthening health systems and supporting evidence-informed policy making. CDBPH participated in the WHO task force for developing guidance for health-systems interventions. Pierre was on the Scientific Advisory Panel for the World Health Report 2012, Selection Committee Canada Grand Challenges Point of Care Devices, Reviewer BMC Health Policy and Services Research, Session Chair on KT for improved management of human resources for health during the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research 2010, and Scientific Advisory Committee Second Global Symposium on Health Systems Research. Pierre lead the implementation of the Policy BUDDIES project in Cameroon. 



Target audience: 


Type of session: 

Few short presentation followed by panel discussion

Other contributors:

Gilson L1, Mijumbi R2, Dayal H3, El-Jardali F4, Ongolo-Zogo P5
1 ,
2 Makerere University, College of Health Sciences, Uganda
3 Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, South Africa
4 American University of Beirut, Lebanon
5 Centre for the Development of Best Practices in Health, Cameroon


Wednesday 13 September 2017 - 14:00 to 15:30