EHS-COVID (7) Evidence synthesis communities in low-income and middle-income countries and the COVID-19 response

1 November, 2020

A critical aspect of maintaining essential health services is to formulate and apply evidence-informed policy and practice. This paper describes some of the challenges faced by evidence synthesis specialists in low- and middle-income countries.

Below are the citation and selected extracts of a Comment in The Lancet.

CITATION: Evidence synthesis communities in low-income and middle-income countries and the COVID-19 response

Ruth Stewart et al.

Published: October 20, 2020



Evidence synthesis specialists have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with WHO's global roadmap for COVID-19 research, we are working to summarise the available research to support evidence-informed decision making across all sectors for immediate and anticipated challenges, within the COVID-19 Evidence Network to support Decision-making (COVID-END). COVID-END is an umbrella organisation involving 50 evidence synthesis or evidence support organisations that are working together to promote collaboration and reduce duplication of effort in the conduct and translation of COVID-19-related evidence syntheses. As a network we have accelerated investment to enable infrastructure for evidence synthesis and to promote evidence use.

COVID-19 and its related impacts are likely to be felt for many years to come. As the low-income and middle-income country (LMIC) members of a global partnership, we believe that, for global evidence synthesis initiatives to benefit from LMIC expertise and be relevant to LMIC settings, it is important to recognise the conceptual and practical challenges that this pandemic presents to our evidence synthesis organisations...

As a broad community of evidence synthesis specialists based in LMICs, many of us are experiencing common difficulties arising from limited access to computer hardware and software, restrictions on database access, limited data storage capacity, inadequate data coverage, and low internet bandwidth. Our institutions, like many in poorer settings, are relying on the commitment of individuals, many of whom are using personal computers, living in unfavourable conditions, and working under pressure as they and their families and friends suffer the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic. Constrained funds are being repurposed from other projects to enable the increased efforts to generate timely and locally relevant evidence syntheses. In some cases, researchers are working without salaries or with job insecurity.


Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,

Coordinator, WHO-HIFA Collaboration: HIFA project on Essential Health Services and COVID-19