Strengthen domestic evidence-support systems
Our first implementation priority – formalize and strengthen evidence-support systems – provides the mechanisms for on-the-ground impacts with the second priority (enhance and leverage the global evidence architecture) and it can underpin many of the mechanisms with the third priority (put evidence at the centre of everyday life).
Decision-makers must be able to draw upon the various forms of evidence they need, best-suited to the questions they’re challenged with, when they need it. Creating this norm, in turn, requires creating the capacities, opportunities and motivation to use evidence, and putting in place the structures and processes to sustain them.
The Global Evidence Commission’s secretariat and its partners across countries are conducting rapid evidence-support system assessments, or RESSAs, and sharing lessons learned through the RESSA Country Leads Group. The goal in each country is to identify what is going well that needs to be systematized and scaled up, and what gaps should be prioritized to fill, and to work with government policymakers, organizational leaders, professionals and citizens to push for improvements.
In this rapid learning and improvement approach, we’re interested to work with partners who can commit to leading or co-leading an assessment in their country or region by relying on our tools and methods, and committing to sharing lessons learned with others through the RESSA Country Leads Group.
It’s the most opportune time in decades to systematize and scale up what is working well and to fill key gaps in evidence production, dissemination, and use—here’s why:
- There is a cadre of political leaders who have personal experience with what worked well during COVID-19 and what could work better (and with how their counterparts in other countries appeared to be better supported with best evidence)
- Innovations in evidence products and processes, such as living evidence syntheses and living guidelines, show evidence producers can meet the time constraints expected of decision-makers
- Lesson learned about needing to have evidence supports in place that can pivot to address future crises
- There’s recognition of the growing array of health and broader societal challenges where best evidence is needed, such as climate action
Spotlight on core recommendations from the Evidence Commission report
Here is a core recommendation from our report related to government policymakers (recommendation 5).
Every national (and sub-national) government should review their existing evidence-support system (and broader evidence infrastructure), fill the gaps both internally and through partnerships, and report publicly on their progress. For
example, many governments do not have an evidence-support coordination office, a behavioural-insights unit, an evidence-use handbook and related metrics, and other features of an ideal evidence-support system (as described in section 4.14). Each government
can also review their ‘mainstream’ structures and processes (e.g., budgeting, planning, monitoring and auditing) to formalize the ‘ways in’ for evidence. Without the right evidence-support system, staff will not have the capacity,
opportunity and motivation to use evidence in government policymaking. Some governments may choose to formalize their effects in legislation, like the U.S. Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. Many governments can also support the use
of evidence in the everyday work of organizational leaders and professionals, and in the everyday lives of citizens, and can explicitly respect Indigenous rights and ways of knowing in their efforts.
Other core recommendations relevant to government policymakers are recommendations 6-11. Because of the role government policymakers serve, many other recommendations are relevant – for example recommendation 24 (funding). To find out about all 24 of our recommendations, see section 7.2 from our report.
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Update 2023 (p.6-7)
Key concepts from Update 2023 relevant to this priority:
- Conducting a rapid evidence-support system assessment (RESSA) starts with a solid understanding of what a domestic evidence-support system is, and how it differs from research and innovation systems PPT
- The potential features of an evidence-support system that we’re looking for and what we’re hearing PPT
Key sections from our report relevant to government policymakers:
- 3.3 - Government policymakers and the context for their use of evidence
- 4.12 - Weaknesses in a health-research system
- 4.14 - Features of an ideal national evidence infrastructure
Other key sections from our report that offer context: