Research policy


Khon Kaen, Thailand
13-16 December 2006

Making Every Cent Count

An International Dialogue on Evidence-informed Action to Achieve Health Goals in Developing Countries

One of the hardest jobs in the world is running health services. There is rarely enough money; the balance between prevention and treatment is often not clear; there are competing priorities; it is highly political and it is a challenge to stay focussed on the people who most need the service.

Is it any wonder then that regardless of whether a nation is rich or poor, the debates are similar and the people criticised for failures are those who do their best to manage health services and develop the policies to make them as effective as possible?

Is it any wonder then that even richer nations are not meeting health targets which evidence suggests they should be? It's one thing to have research based evidence for action. It’s quite another to forge the path to implementation. The result can be money wasted with limited health gains.

Achieving health goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for health, require action through effective, efficient and equitable health care systems. Policy decisions within these systems are more likely to achieve critical health goals if they are well informed than if they are poorly informed.

This unique three day forum will focus on a small number of priority health goals and bring health policy makers, researchers and citizens-consumers to the table to share experiences and evidence and explore pragmatic solutions at a system level. Preference will be given to participants from low and middle income countries (LMIC's).

Numbers will be limited to make discussions as productive as possible in a "safe harbour" environment where commitments will not be called for and confidences kept, to facilitate open, action-oriented work.

The outcomes of the meeting will include:

  • User-friendly summaries of the best available research evidence for key decisions related to high priority health system goals
  • A written report summarising key lessons from the dialogue
  • Clarification on what WHO and other international organizations and networks can do to support the implementation of evidence-informed health policy decisions in developing countries
  • Possibility of creating new or informal networks to support well-informed health policy decisions and actions-and make the task of policy makers easier
  • Better understanding among researchers of the unique needs of policy makers; enhanced focus on the needs of populations and individuals
  • Sustained action following the 2004 Ministerial Summit on Health Research in Mexico and testing possible agendas and formats for the 2008 Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health
  • Evaluation of an innovative approach to organizing and sustaining international dialogue on evidence-informed action to achieve health goals in developing countries.

…..and it will offer an opportunity for participants to

  • Discuss the evidence relevant to important health policy decisions and the implications of that evidence for decisions in the context in which they live and work
  • Interact with policy makers, citizens-consumers and researchers
  • Interact with colleagues in similar situations from other countries, learn from their experience and reflect on their own experience
  • Take part in and inform discussions on the role of the WHO and other international organizations in the potential establishment of international and/or regional networks and mechanisms to support ongoing dialogue regarding evidence-informed health policy decisions and actions

The priority health goals and topics

Three high priority health goals and action areas have been identified through a broad consultative process involving policy makers, health system managers and citizens-consumers. One of the goals-topics is targeted at the MDG's while the other two focuses on system issues. The selected topics are:

  • Maternal and child health
  • Financing of health systems
  • Human resources for health