Public Health Policy Making to Get New Life with Help from CARPHA

St. George’s, Grenada, June 24, 2015:  A study conducted by one of the former Regional Health Institutions found that governments generally lack the capacity to assess and use research to make health policy decisions.  Furthermore, the type of research needed to inform health decisions in the Region is not necessarily the type that is being conducted.  Understanding the impact that these situations can have on public health in the Region, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), has launched an initiative called the Evidence Informed Decision Making Network of the Caribbean (EvIDeNCe).

One of the functions of CARPHA is the “provision of accurate, reliable, timely and relevant public health information”. Through the EvIDeNCe, CARPHA will be able to adhere to this mandate, as policy-makers and researchers will be able to access information and services relevant to their work.  Policy-makers will be provided with easy access to Caribbean research evidence to support their decision-making needs.  This will be made available through a portal which can be accessed via the CARPHA website
CARPHA will also host regular dialogues on pressing health policy issues.  During these dialogues, Researchers, policy-makers and stakeholders will have an opportunity to share their knowledge and experience.  In this way, solutions that are based on the best available scientific evidence but which also fit the unique social and political context of the Caribbean could be found. It is envisaged that by bringing together a diverse group persons with interest in the topic, new insights about solving the problems can be sparked.  

Additionally, CARPHA will provide training to help build the required capacity in the Region so as to enable all Member States to have the tools needed to make more informed health decisions.

According to Dr. Andrea Yearwood, the Senior Health Policy Analyst at CARPHA the benefits of the initiative to the Region are many, “CARPHA will work with countries to develop Evidence Briefs for a particular health problem that Ministries may be grappling with, and when requested will summarize what is scientifically known about the problem, and identify context specific policy and program options to address them”.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), McMaster University, Health Forum and the University of the West Indies have provided considerable support to this initiative, as they believe that it is necessary and important and will be of great benefit to the Ministries of Health in the Region.  Representatives from these organizations, including Hon. Nickolas Steele the Minister of Health Grenada, were on hand for the launch of the Network.

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