SUPPORT-SYSTEMS (72) Q4 What evidence can CSOs provide? (5)

1 June, 2022

Dear Neil and all

Thank you Neil for initiating this week's questions and sharing your reflections on them. [ ] You raised three ways by which civil society organisations may generate evidence, here understood in broad sense: (1) carry out valuable research themselves; (2) collaborate with research institutions; and (3) share tacit knowledge that they hold. On the latter, some nice work on this below:

* Kothari, A., D. Rudman, M. Dobbins, M. Rouse, S. Sibbald and N. Edwards (2012). "The use of tacit and explicit knowledge in public health: a qualitative study." Implementation Science 7(1): 1-12.

* Kothari, A. R., J. J. Bickford, N. Edwards, M. J. Dobbins and M. Meyer (2011). "Uncovering tacit knowledge: a pilot study to broaden the concept of knowledge in knowledge translation." BMC health services research 11(1): 1-10.

* Becerril-Montekio, Victor, et al. "Using systematized tacit knowledge to prioritize implementation challenges in existing maternal health programs: implications for the post MDG era." Health policy and planning 31.8 (2016): 1031-1038.

I would like to add a 4th way, namely co-production of knowledge with policy makers. A concrete example is described in works by Tangcharoensathien et. al. and Kanchanachitra et. al., who have examined the processes by which co-production of knowledge has informed health policy making in Thailand. They distinguish between three key groups of stakeholders and highlight how these bring different expertise and experiences to evidence generation and policy development: (1) the government sector (e.g., policy makers, politicians, local administrative organisations, and government services); (2) people's sector (civil society, communities, and citizens (people's sector) and; (3) knowledge sector (academia, think tanks, and research institutions). Focusing on a cabinet decision to enforce a total ban on chrysotile asbestos, they highlight the role of consumer protection groups in synthesizing evidence and raising awareness of the problem. These experiences are described in the following two papers:

* Kanchanachitra, Churnrurtai, et al. "Multisectoral governance for health: challenges in implementing a total ban on chrysotile asbestos in Thailand." BMJ Global Health 3.Suppl 4 (2018): e000383.

* Tangcharoensathien, Viroj, et al. "Co-production of evidence for policies in Thailand: from concept to action." bmj 372 (2021).

I'd think some of the work done by Treatment Action Campaign, Third World Network and other civil society organizations working to promote equity in access to medicines have also followed a 'co-production' model in partnership with governments in low- and middle-income countries. If people can point to other examples and literature on civil society involved in co-production of knowledge to inform health systems decisions, that would be most helpful.

Best regards


HIFA profile: Unni Gopinathan is a Senior Scientist aat Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Norway. Unni is joint coordinator of the HIFA working group on SUPPORT-SYSTEMS: How can decision-making processes for health systems strengthening and universal health coverage be made more inclusive, responsive and accountable?

Email: Unni.Gopinathan AT