The McMaster Health Forum was designated as the WHO Collaborating Centre for Evidence-Informed Policy in December 2010. Recognizing the valuable contributions made by the Forum, the WHO renewed the Forum’s designation as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Evidence-Informed Policy for another four-year term, to December 2018. The centre’s co-directors are John Lavis, director of the McMaster Health Forum, and Holger Schünemann, chair of the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact at McMaster University.
The re-designation enhances the Forum’s opportunities for applying its innovative initiatives to ensure that the best available evidence on pressing health-system challenges is incorporated into decisions throughout the world.
Both WHO and its regional office – the Pan American Health Organization – have a long-standing practice of working in partnership with existing organizations such as research institutes, universities and academies, as they believe research in the field of health is best advanced by assisting, coordinating and making use of the activities of existing institutions.
In addition to supporting evidence-informed decision-making in member states, the collaborating centre also supports the implementation of the PAHO Policy on Research for Health and the WHO Strategy on Research for Health.
Through training and educational activities such as workshops and stakeholder dialogues, developing products such as guidelines, manuals, online training materials (e.g., cebgrade.mcmaster.ca) and methodologies, and supporting the implementation of WHO programs at the country level (including the WHO-sponsored Evidence-Informed Policy Network), the collaborating centre works to increase the capacity of individual member states and their institutions to make better-informed decisions with regard to healthcare policy and delivery that will ultimately improve the overall health status of citizens.
Among the projects undertaken since its designation, the Forum has worked with WHO and PAHO to support, monitor and evaluate Evidence-Informed Policy Networks (EVIPNet) in dozens of countries around the world. Health Systems Evidence is the Forum’s renowned, continuously updated collection of the world’s best evidence about strengthening health systems and getting the right programs, services and drugs to those who need them.
The Forum and WHO/PAHO plan to continue to co-operate on initiatives such as organizing stakeholder dialogues about pressing health-system challenges, building capacity for evidence-informed decision-making, and contributing towards institutional strengthening within WHO member states.