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 Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics 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 challenges is incorporated into decisions on health system policies throughout the world.
Both PAHO and WHO 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 and improving health systems research and development, 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 countries 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 during the past four years, the Forum has worked with WHO to support, monitor and evaluate Evidence-Informed Policy Networks (EVIPNet) in dozens of countries around the world, and with PAHO to integrate Health Systems Evidence into the EVIPNet Virtual Health Library. Health Systems Evidence is the Forum’s renowned, continuously collection of the world’s best evidence about strengthening health systems and getting cost-effective programs, services and drugs to those who need them.
The two groups plan to continue to co-operate on initiatives such as organizing stakeholder dialogues about pressing health challenges, building capacity for evidence-informed policymaking, and contributing towards institutional strengthening within WHO member states.