SUPPORT-SYSTEMS (69) Q4 What evidence can CSOs provide? (4)

31 May, 2022

Question 4 asks: What do you think are the different types of evidence that civil society can provide, that otherwise would not be considered? What are the main drivers and barriers to uptake and use of such evidence?

When we think of 'providing evidence' this could be generation of new evidence or highlighting existing evidence. Smaller non-governmental organisations, faith-based organisations, and community groups typically do not have the capacity, nor often the remit, to conduct rigorous, academic research. Nevertheless, I suspect much valuable health research has been undertaken by larger NGOs and others, sometimes in collaboration with academia and/or government. Can anyone give examples where national or subnational CSOs have conducted research?

I can imagine also that research that is led by research institutions may collaborate with CSOs for the purpose of exploring issues and collecting data. The current research project SUPPORT-SYSTEMS is a case in point! Here, six research institutions are collaborating with a civil society organisation (Global Healthcare Information Network/HIFA) for the purpose of exploring the issues. In terms of inclusiveness, value and equity, I hope that HIFA can bring a meaningful contribution to the project.

We might take this further: What 'evidence' can HIFA facilitate? Two types of evidence come to mind. The first is tacit knowledge: the lived experience of people who have something to share with others, and for all of us to learn collectively. There is the possibility of true insights from such interaction, which may be personal ("I could apply this approach to my setting") or, more rarely, a new collective insight. The second type of evidence that HIFA can bring is explicit knowledge. Members can highlight publications and reports that shed light on the issues we are discussing - published literature that might not otherwise have been considered. This is particularly when conducting systematic reviews and indeed SUPPORT-SYSTEMS project is undertaking such a review and will be asking for your input in due course.

I look forward to hear your thoughts. Please send email to:

Best wishes, Neil


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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is global coordinator of the HIFA global health movement (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in official relations with WHO. HIFA brings stakeholders together to accelerate progress towards universal access to reliable healthcare information.

Twitter: @hifa_org