McMaster Forum and WHO renew partnership to support evidence-informed policymaking

Recognizing the valuable contributions made by the McMaster Health Forum over the past twelve years, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its regional office for the Americas – the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) – renewed the Forum’s designation as the PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for Evidence-Informed Policy for another four-year term, with Forum director John Lavis as its director. In this capacity, the Forum will continue to support the priorities of WHO and PAHO, particularly in the field of evidence-informed policymaking. The re-designation will present the Forum with many ongoing opportunities for extending the reach and impacts of its innovative mechanisms for supporting evidence-informed policymaking.

"The Forum aims to harness research evidence, citizen values and evidence-and values-informed stakeholder insights to inform policymaking, both domestically through the Forum and internationally through networks like the WHO-supported Evidence-Informed Policy Network,” said Forum Director John Lavis. “As such, we look forward to continuing our collaboration with WHO and PAHO.” 

“‘Slow burn’ societal challenges like educational achievement, health-system performance and climate change took a backseat to the global pandemic, but a report from the Evidence Commission highlights that decision-makers responding to present-day societal challenges and tomorrow’s crises have an unprecedented opportunity to build on what has worked in using evidence. This re-designation is an incredible opportunity to dramatically up our game in supporting government policymakers and other decision-makers to use evidence to address societal challenges at a global, national and local level.”

The McMaster Health Forum was originally designated as the WHO Collaborating Centre for Evidence-Informed Policy in December 2010. Recognizing the valuable contributions made by the Forum, the WHO has now renewed the Forum’s designation as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Evidence-Informed Policy for a fourth four-year term, to December 2026.

Among the many projects undertaken during the past four years, the Forum worked with WHO and PAHO to support EVIPNet in dozens of countries around the world, and to build capacity to find and use research evidence and to set agendas and develop and implement policies. The Forum also:

  • maintained and continuously added new content to our three evidence portals (Health Systems Evidence, Social Systems Evidence and the COVID-END Inventory of Evidence Syntheses that are being used by stakeholders from all WHO Member States)
  • responded to urgent policymaker requests for evidence on 39 topics of interest to many Member States, preparing timely demand-driven evidence products (such as rapid and living evidence profiles, rapid and living evidence syntheses, evidence briefs, etc.)
  • organized timely demand-driven evidence-related processes (stakeholder dialogues, citizen panels, and jamborees) on seven topics
  • co-led (in our role as the secretariat for the COVID-19 Evidence Network to support Decision-making (COVID-END)) with Cochrane and WHO the coordination group for WHO’s Evidence Collaborative for COVID-19 (ECC-19)
  • convened regularly a global horizon-scanning panel to identify emergent issues where evidence syntheses were needed and we regularly provided updates about these needs and about our evidence products to WHO’s ECC-19
  • continued to provide virtual workshops when requested by WHO Member States
  • gave 185 webinars and presentations
  • supervised scholars and PhD students (five Queen Elizabeth Scholars in Strengthening Health and Social Systems from WHO member states, as well as three PhD students and six scholars or awardees working with EVIPNet or similar teams in WHO member states).

We are pleased to work closely with other WHO Collaborating Centres, namely SPARK / Knowledge to Policy Center in Beirut, Lebanon (the WHO Collaborating Centre for Evidence-Informed Practice and Policy), the Global Strategy Lab (WHO Collaborating Centre on Global Governance of Antimicrobial Resistance), and Lanzhou University (WHO Collaborating Centre for Guideline Implementation and Knowledge Translation).

The Forum — a cross-university initiative that extends McMaster’s global reputation from evidence-based medicine to evidence-informed health and social systems, and from problem-based learning to collective problem-solving — and WHO will continue to co-ordinate activities in several areas of common interest.

The two groups plan to continue to co-operate on initiatives such as organizing stakeholder dialogues about pressing health and social challenges, building capacity for evidence-informed policymaking, and contributing towards institutional strengthening within WHO member states.

About WHO

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) constitution came into force on 7 April 1948 – a date that is celebrated every year as World Health Day. Working with 194 Member States, across six regions, and from more than 150 offices, WHO staff are united in a shared commitment to achieve better health for everyone, everywhere.

In line with the mission to provide global leadership in public health, WHO employs health specialists, medical doctors, scientists, epidemiologists and also people with expertise in administration and finance, information systems, economics, health statistics as well as emergency preparedness and response.

The WHO is building a better, healthier future for people all over the world.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), founded in 1902, is the world’s oldest international public health agency. It provides technical cooperation and mobilizes partnerships to improve health and quality of life in the countries of the Americas. PAHO is the specialized health agency of the Inter-American System and serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO). Together with WHO, PAHO is a member of the United Nations system.

About the McMaster Forum

The McMaster Forum’s goal is to generate action on the pressing health and social issues of our time. We do this based on the best available research evidence, as well as experiences and insights from citizens, professionals, organizational leaders, and government policymakers. We undertake some of our work under the Forum banner, and other work in our role as secretariat for Rapid-Improvement Support and Exchange, COVID-19 Evidence Network to support Decision-making (COVID-END), and Global Commission on Evidence to Address Societal Challenges. 

The Forum’s innovative methods have earned recognition at the local, regional, national and international levels, and contributed to its designation as the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Evidence-Informed Policy.

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