A World Health Assembly special session to discuss the development of a potential new global health treaty to support pandemic preparedness is taking place this week (29 November – 1 December).
The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO) and is attended by representatives of all Member States.
Our statement, which reiterates the reflections from the recent Cochrane Convenes meetings about the COVID-19 evidence response, is below:
Cochrane is a global advocate for evidence-informed health and health care. Our mission is to produce relevant and timely synthesized evidence.
Building and strengthening systems which are adequately prepared to produce and use reliable, relevant and timely evidence will be crucial to respond to future global health emergencies.
Cochrane recently hosted a convening of high-level stakeholders, co-sponsored by WHO, to reflect on the role of evidence in the COVID-19 pandemic and develop recommendations for future preparedness. The evidence response has been inequitable; our research methods, tools and processes have been pushed to their limits; and we have struggled to communicate uncertainties and gain trust.
Therefore, we urge Member States to ensure that any convention or instrument developed during this process prioritise the production, use and communication of evidence – and is accompanied by sustained investment in the systems and people who perform this vital role.
Our recommendations echo the WHO Evidence-informed Policy Network call for action, which we proudly support.
Location: Flexible location (remote working) – contract type dependent on location.
Specifications: 1 Jan to 31 July 2022. Fixed-term contract if successful applicant based in UK, Germany or Denmark. Consultancy contract in other locations.
Hours: Part time 22.5 hours per week.
Salary: £30,000 per annum (pro-rated to part time).
Application Closing Date: Monday 13 December (Midnight GMT).
This role is an exciting opportunity to use your communication and problem-solving skills to make a difference in the field of health care research.
The Cochrane Support team is the first point of contact for the international Cochrane community. We provide technical and user support to Cochrane editorial teams and review authors; and handle enquiries from members of the public about Cochrane’s work.
We pride ourselves on our timely and coordinated support service, covering a broad range of areas including Cochrane review-writing software, editorial processing and publication, Cochrane Account login, membership, training, and volunteering opportunities.
The team works closely with Cochrane’s Central Editorial Service and Editorial and Methods Department, as well as IT Services, to ensure accurate, consistent responses to queries on Cochrane technology, policies and methods.
Cochrane is a global, independent network of health practitioners, researchers, patient advocates and others, responding to the challenge of making vast amounts of research evidence useful for informing decisions about health. We do this by synthesizing research findings to produce the best available evidence on what can work, what might harm and where more research is needed. Our work is recognised as the international gold standard for high quality, trusted information.
For further information on the role and how to apply, please click here. The supporting statement should indicate why you are applying for the post, and how far you meet the requirements, using specific examples. Note that we will assess applications as they are received, and therefore may fill the post before the deadline.
Cochrane is made up of 11,000 members and over 67,000 supporters come from more than 130 countries, worldwide. Our volunteers and contributors are researchers, health professionals, patients, carers, people passionate about improving health outcomes for everyone, everywhere.
Getting involved in Cochrane’s work means becoming part of a global community. The Cochrane International Mobility programme connects successful applicants with a placement in a host Cochrane Group, learning more about the production, use, and knowledge translation of Cochrane reviews. The prgramme offers opportunities for learning and training not only for participants but also for host staff.
In this series, we profile those that have participated in the Cochrane International Mobility Program and learn more about their experiences.
Name: Raphaela Mayerhofer
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
CIM location: Cochrane Austria
How did you first learn about Cochrane?
Cochrane is a household name in my field, it must have been many years ago when I first heard about it
What was your experience with Cochrane International Mobility?
Even though my stay at Cochrane Austria was only four weeks long, I learned incredibly much. To make the most of my time, the team made sure I could join ongoing projects right away. I had the chance to participate in ongoing systematic reviews and rapid reviews, and work on projects assessing evidence synthesis methods. CIM gave me the opportunity to sharpen my skills and fueled my enthusiasm for evidence synthesis.
What are you doing now in relation to your Cochrane International Mobility experience?
I’m currently preparing a workshop to share what I learned with faculty members at my university.
Do you have any words of advice to anyone considering a Cochrane International Mobility experience?
Find a Cochrane Center that specializes in what interests you to make the most of it!
Specifications: Full Time (Permanent)
Salary: £85,000 per annum
Application Closing Date: 19 December 2021
Cochrane is a global, independent network of health practitioners, researchers, patient advocates and others, responding to the challenge of making vast amounts of research evidence useful for informing decisions about health. We do this by synthesizing research findings to produce the best available evidence on what can work, what might harm and where more research is needed. Our work is recognised as the international gold standard for high quality, trusted information. An understanding of Cochrane’s work and health research more generally is an advantage, but not essential.
We are now looking to recruit our first Director of Development, whose role will be to work with the global community to grow our fundraising income substantially in the coming years. As a member of the executive leadership team, they will lead the Development Directorate and establish a fundraising operation that works collaboratively to deliver significant global income growth.
Key to success in this role will be the development and implementation of fundraising, marketing, communications, and engagement and influencing strategies – as well as understanding and ideally experience of international fundraising. As such, we are seeking an ambitious and creative individual who relishes a challenge, loves collaborative working, delivers results and has extensive experience of successfully delivering strategy.
The majority of Cochrane Central Executive staff are located in London, UK, however flexible location and/or working arrangement are possible for the right candidate.
How to apply
For further information on the role and how to apply, please click here. The deadline to receive your application is by 19 December 2021. The supporting statement should indicate why you are applying for the post, and how far you meet the requirements, using specific examples.
First interviews likely to be held week beginning 10 January 2022
The Centre for Epidemic Intervention Research at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, located in Oslo, Norway, is currently seeking applicants for the following positions:
The overall mission for the newly established centre is to produce more and better evidence on the effects of public health and social interventions, and non-pharmacological infection control measures, specifically. This also includes adverse consequences. The centre will collaborate with researchers, institutions, organisations, and stakeholders both nationally and internationally. The centre works closely with the World Health Organization's intiative to strengthen the evidence base for decisions about public health and social measures.
Application deadline 15 December 2021.Friday, November 19, 2021 Category: Jobs
In this interview with lead author Christopher Gibbons, we find out more about the recently published review, Routine provision of information on patient-reported outcome measures to healthcare providers and patients in clinical practice.
Tell us about this review
The aim of this Cochrane Review was to find out whether healthcare workers who receive information from questionnaires completed by their patients give better health care and whether their patients have better health. We collected and analysed all relevant studies.
What did you find out?
Patient questionnaire responses fed back to health workers and patients may result in moderate benefits for patient\provider communication and small benefits for patients' quality of life. Healthcare workers probably make and record more diagnoses and take more notes. The intervention probably makes little or no difference for patient's general perceptions of their health, social functioning, and pain. There appears to be no impact on physical and mental functioning, and fatigue. Our confidence in these results is limited by the quality and number of included studies for each outcome.
What was studied in the review?
When receiving health care, patients are not always asked about how they feel, either about their physical, mental or social health. This can be a problem as knowing how the patient is feeling might help to make decisions about diagnosis and the course of the treatment. One possible solution is to ask the patients to complete questionnaires about their health, and then give that information to the healthcare workers and to patients.
What are the main results of the review?
We found 116 studies (49,785 participants), all of which were from high income countries. We found that feeding back patient questionnaire responses to healthcare workers and patients probably slightly improves quality of life and increases communication between patients and their doctors, but probably does not make a lot of difference to social functioning. We are not sure of the impact on physical and mental functioning or fatigue of feeding back patient questionnaire responses as the certainty of this evidence was assessed as very low. The intervention probably increases diagnosis and note taking. We did not find studies reporting on adverse effects defined as distress following or related to Patient reported outcomes measures (PROM) completion.
What would you like to see happen next to provide more evidence in this area?
I would like to see more large, high quality, cluster randomized clinical trials that increase the evidence base for the intervention that use Computerized Adaptive Testing in the measurement of patient reported outcomes. In these interventions, the information which is fed-back combines standardized and individualized measurement, these randomize patients and clinicians to different modalities of feed-back interventions and recipients (including patient only, patient and professional, professional only).
Outcomes of interest include:
- adverse effects
- general health perceptions,
- specific symptoms, (cough, insomnia, nausea, anorexia, constipation, diarrhoea),
- clinicians ratings of severity,
- different types of visits, admissions and their length,
- patient physician relationship,
- unmet patient needs,
- quality of care and costs;
- and that focus on people with multimorbidity
Further research on the mechanisms by which the intervention operates is needed.
Salary: €46,442 - €56,369
Start Date: 4th Jan 2022
Application closing date: 25 November 2021
More information/apply: https://www.universityvacancies.com/national-university-ireland-galway/systematic-reviewer-post-doctoral-researcherresearch-fellow
Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for a four year (1.0 FTE) fixed term contract position as Post-Doctoral Researcher/Research Fellow with Evidence Synthesis Ireland (ESI).
Evidence Synthesis Ireland is an all-Ireland initiative funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) and the Health and Social Care, Research and Development (HSC R&D) Division of the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.
Position is full-time (1.0 FTE) and is available from 4th Jan 2022 to 30 November 2025. The successful candidate will be based in the Centre for Health Evaluation, Methodology Research and Evidence Synthesis (CHEMRES) in NUI Galway. CHEMRES is also host to Cochrane Ireland and the HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network.
The role is to plan, conduct and support ESI activity in relation to the co-ordination of prioritised national and international evidence syntheses relevant to policy and practice on the island of Ireland and integration of capacity building into this activity. This role will require substantial evidence synthesis methodology experience and expertise as well as demonstratable evidence of leadership ability.
The successful candidate will contribute to the research programme of ESI. The successful candidate is expected to build capacity in evidence synthesis by supporting ESI’s training programme. The successful candidate will also have access to a large program of education for their own professional development.
The successful candidate will be responsible for leading and supporting evidence syntheses across a range of study designs and for leading a program of primary synthesis methodology research. The successful applicant will be highly motivated, passionate about developing high quality research, self-motivated with strong attention to detail and quality.
The latest update of the Cochrane review ‘Vaccines for preventing rotavirus diarrhoea: vaccines in use’ has found that rotavirus vaccines pre-qualified by the World Health Organization (WHO) (Rotarix, RotaTeq, Rotasiil, and Rotavac), prevent episodes of rotavirus diarrhoea in children and no increased risk of serious adverse events was found.
Rotavirus infection is a common cause of diarrhoea in infants and in young children, and can cause mild illness, hospitalization, and death. Since 2009, the WHO has recommended that a rotavirus vaccine be included in all national infant and child immunization programmes. To date, 107 countries have followed this recommendation. In the years before infants and children started receiving rotavirus vaccine, rotavirus infection resulted in about 0.5 million deaths per year in children under five years of age, mainly in low- and middle-income countries.
This Cochrane Review, processed by the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group (CIDG) editorial base at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, was first published in 2004 and has been updated five times. In 2012, in consultation with the WHO, the data underwent major restructuring by country mortality rates to reflect the observation that vaccine efficacy profiles are different in countries with different mortality rates.
The 2012, 2019, and 2021 review updates were preceded by systematic reviews commissioned by the WHO Immunization, Vaccines & Biologicals department and were used for WHO policy decisions on rotavirus vaccination schedules. These reviews were carried out by members of the author team and the subsequent Cochrane review updates built on the WHO reviews and vice versa.
The most recent review includes 60 studies: Rotarix (36 trials), RotaTeq (15 trials), Rotasiil (5 trials), and Rotavac (4 trials). The findings were presented at Session 6 - Rotavirus Vaccines at the October 2020 SAGE Meeting and was provided to SAGE Members as key background material to inform discussions (access presentation and background materials here). As a result of this SAGE discussions, an updated WHO Rotavirus Vaccine Position Paper was published on 16 July 2021). This position paper provides global advice on rotavirus vaccine policy. In turn, the updated WHO position paper and the supporting background materials support Regional and National Immunization Technical Advisory group discussions which lead to decisions for local rotavirus vaccine policies.
Lead author, Hanna Bergman, noted, “The two globally established vaccines already have a proven track record and we now have high confidence in the two newer vaccines, all showing similar efficacy in preventing severe rotavirus diarrhea in infants and young children in high-mortality settings. This review also reinforces that more work needs to be done to improve and explore the reasons behind the lower efficacy of rotavirus vaccines seen in high-mortality countries.”
Bergman H, Henschke N, Hungerford D, Pitan F, Ndwandwe D, Cunliffe N, Soares‐Weiser K. Vaccines for preventing rotavirus diarrhoea: vaccines in use. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2021, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD008521. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008521.pub6.
The editorial base of the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group is funded by UK aid from the UK government for the benefit of low- and middle-income countries (project number 300342-104). The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.
Cochrane Sustainable Healthcare joins forces with the BMJ to explore new ways to make health systems healthier
New podcast series looks at initiatives to wind back the medical excess that is causing harm to people and the planet.
Cochrane Sustainable Healthcare has joined forces with the BMJ to launch a new podcast series called The Recovery - Voices of action towards sustainable healthcare co-hosted by The BMJ’s Editor in Chief Dr Fiona Godlee and journalist and Bond University health researcher Dr Ray Moynihan.
The series will feature compelling and inspirational conversations with healthcare researchers, doctors, and activists from around the world who are actively working to wind back medical excess and forge more sustainable healthcare systems to improve our health, wellbeing, and climate.
Over six episodes, listeners will hear about new and sometimes radical initiatives that are changing the way doctors practice medicine, to ensure better access to high quality, evidence-based, and safe healthcare.
- Australian doctors fearlessly challenging professional norms to wind back ineffective and dangerous care
- A high-profile cancer specialist in India helping to reduce wasteful care in low- and middle-income countries
- A US-based doctor leading a non-violent revolution of care, built on compassion and solidarity
- A UK general practitioner championing physical activity, creating garden spaces, and improving access to fresh food, to empower patients, improve equity, and enhance the community’s wellbeing and health
“All these voices are part of a growing global chorus campaigning for fundamental reform of how we practice medicine and showing that radical new alternatives are imminently feasible,” write Godlee, Moynihan and Dr Minna Johansson, Director of Cochrane Sustainable Healthcare in an opinion article to launch the series.
“All those unnecessary tests, treatments, and diagnoses bring direct harm to people through adverse effects of drugs and surgeries, psychosocial harms of labelling, and increasing the burden of treatments. And since resources for healthcare are finite, waste is also harming patients indirectly because the overuse of some medical interventions means there are less resources to tackle underuse and underdiagnosis in other areas.”
They acknowledge that the drivers of unsustainable healthcare are complex and diverse and say we must adapt to support more sustainable decision-making within healthcare.
“Most healthcare extends lives and reduces suffering, but too much medicine remains unnecessary and harmful,” they warn. “Reducing medical excess is not primarily about saving money, it is about avoiding harm to people and the planet.”
We hope this podcast series will inspire listeners all over the world to imagine novel and radical approaches for a more sustainable healthcare, and to dare to move from imagination to action.
In this interview with Dr. Minna Johansson, Cochrane Sustainable Healthcare Field Director we learn more about the work of this field, the issues it wants to address and some of the ways they are engaging audiences to learn more.
Can you tell us about the Sustainable Healthcare Field?
Cochrane Sustainable Healthcare is a new Cochrane group focused on addressing medical excess. The background for our work is the notion that medical excess threatens the health of individuals and poses challenges for health system sustainability - and the need of an evidence base better suited to support sustainable decisions about healthcare. In essence, we are developing a global network for collaboration with partners within and beyond Cochrane on activities ranging from short‐term research projects to longer‐term reform initiatives.
What is the field’s main goal?
Our fundamental aim is to contribute to a more sustainable healthcare for patients, for health systems, for our societies, and for the planet. Our more concrete goals are to enhance the relevance of primary research and evidence synthesis to tackle medical excess, and to increase the use of that evidence to enable a more sustainable healthcare.
Who is involved?
I am leading the work, together with Dina Muscat Meng who is coordinator of Cochrane Sustainable Healthcare. But more importantly, during these first two years since the launch we have had enormous support, help and engagement from a broad international network of highly skilled people who have generously contributed with time and resources to help bring this work further. Some of these people and organizations are mentioned at our website. We would like to especially thank Cochrane Sweden and Cochrane Denmark. We will develop this network further by partnering with primary researchers, funders of research, organizations working with evidence synthesis, guideline developers, policy makers, health systems organizations, professional medical associations, citizen and patient organizations, and the general public. We welcome anyone who is interested in this initiative to contact us.
We are just about to launch a pop-up podcast series; “The Recovery – Voices of action towards sustainable healthcare” - co-published with The BMJ. In these podcasts, our co-hosts Ray Moynihan from Bond University and Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of The BMJ, meet thought-leaders around the world who are cutting the edge of sustainable healthcare. From Mumbai to Minnesota, you will hear about new initiatives that are changing the way we practice medicine, to ensure better access to high quality, evidence-based, and safe healthcare. The series includes an interview with Rachelle Buchbinder and Ian Harris, recent author of book, Hippocrasy: How doctors are betraying their oath.
Further, in collaboration with people from Cochrane Argentina, Cochrane Chile, Cochrane Methods, Cochrane Sweden and Cochrane Denmark, we have recently launched a Special Collection of Cochrane Reviews featuring examples of resource-intense interventions, including those requiring extra healthcare visits, for which there is high or moderate certainty evidence that they confer clinically small or no effects, and for which there is some evidence of harm to patients. The reviews are particularly relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic, and should inform guideline, and policy developers, and decision makers planning health care, both during and after the pandemic. This Special Collection is intended as the first in a series, with subsequent Collections focusing on other healthcare interventions shown to being ineffective, harmful, or unproven.
What is planned in the future?
We have a wide range of exciting projects in pipeline – one of the most exciting in my opinion is a collaboration with GRADE where we are just about to form a GRADE Working Group focused on medical excess. We are also working on a project evaluating the quality and balance of messaging in disease awareness campaigns observed by the WHO, Cochrane and the US government – and we plan to develop reporting guidance for such campaigns, which can be used by campaign organizers to ensure high quality and balanced messaging when developing a campaign, as well as by organizations and authorities when deciding on whether to endorse a campaign or not. We also aim to develop our collaboration with international and regional stakeholders – such as for example Choosing Wisely.
In conclusion, the need for novel approaches to tackle medical excess is increasingly recognized. We believe that an intensified focus on projects and initiatives that cross the traditional boundaries between the different stakeholders in the evidence chain is required. The reasons for these challenges are diverse and complex, and so are the solutions – a strong collaboration integrating differing and sometimes contradictory perspectives is indicated. This will undoubtedly be challenging, but a more sustainable healthcare will benefit individual patients, as well as our communities.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health seeks Tenure-Track Assistant or Associate Professor (Baltimore, US)
Location: Baltimore, MD, US
Deadline: 30 Nov, 2021
The Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant or Associate Professor specializing in evidence synthesis. The candidate will be based in the Center for Clinical Trials and Evidence Synthesis.
They welcome applications from candidates who are in the early to mid phases their academic career. Academic rank will be commensurate with experience.
Applicants should hold a doctoral degree in epidemiology, medicine, or a related discipline with graduate training in epidemiology. Successful candidates will have demonstrated original scholarship, possess excellent written and communication skills as evidenced by peer-reviewed publications and professional meeting presentations, and have the capacity for an independent research program. Candidates will be expected to teach classes in epidemiology and mentor graduate students.
The Department of Epidemiology is one of the oldest and largest departments of epidemiology in the world, with over 200 doctoral and master’s students and a diverse research program directed by over 125 faculty. The institution has a strong research infrastructure and commitment to conduct both observational and experimental research. Candidates should possess a solid epidemiologic foundation to contribute to the research and teaching missions of the Department.
Featured review: What are the benefits and risks of visible light therapy for treating atopic eczema?
Cochrane Skin is pleased to announce the publication of a new review, Phototherapy for atopic eczema. This review was led by dermatologists from Amsterdam University Medical Centers, and supported by a key stakeholder: the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). The AAD provided funding for this systematic review (32 studies, 1219 people with clinically diagnosed atopic eczema), which enabled publication of the protocol and full review within 13 months of title registration.
- Narrowband (NB) ultraviolet B (UVB), compared to placebo (a sham treatment), may improve eczema severity (including itch) and may not affect the number of people leaving a study because of unwanted effects.
- We were unable to confidently draw conclusions for other phototherapy (light therapy) treatments.
- Future research needs to assess longer term effectiveness and safety of NB-UVB and other forms of phototherapy for eczema.
This Cochrane Review will be used to inform the AAD’s update to their guidelines of care for the management of acne (expected in the third quarter of 2023).
What is eczema and how is it treated?
Eczema is a condition that results in dry, itchy patches of inflamed skin. Eczema typically starts in childhood, but can improve with age. Eczema is caused by a combination of genetics and environmental factors, which lead to skin barrier dysfunction. Eczema can negatively impact quality of life, and the societal cost is significant.
Eczema treatments are often creams or ointments that reduce itch and redness, applied directly to the skin. If these are unsuccessful, systemic medicines that affect the whole body, or phototherapy are options. Phototherapy (light therapy or visible light therapy) can be UVB, ultraviolet A (UVA), or photochemotherapy (PUVA), where phototherapy is given alongside substances that increase sensitivity to UV light.
What did we do?
We searched for studies that investigated phototherapy compared with no treatment, placebo, other forms of phototherapy, or another type of eczema treatment. Studies could include people of all ages, who had eczema diagnosed by a healthcare professional.
What did we find?
We found 32 studies, involving 1219 people with eczema (average age: 28 years), who were recruited from dermatology clinics. Most studies assessed people with skin type II to III (which is classed as white to medium skin colour), and moderate to severe eczema, with which they had lived for many years. Studies included similar numbers of males and females. The studies were conducted in Europe, Asia, and Egypt (setting was not reported by seven studies), and lasted, on average, for 13 weeks. Almost half of the studies reported their source of funding; two were linked to commercial sponsors.
Our included studies mostly assessed NB-UVB, followed by UVA1, then broadband ultraviolet B; fewer studies investigated other types of phototherapy. The studies compared these treatments to placebo, or no treatment, another type of phototherapy, different doses of the same sort of phototherapy, or other eczema treatments applied to the skin or taken by tablet.
None of the studies investigated excimer lamp (a source of UV radiation) or heliotherapy (the use of natural sunlight), other light therapies in which we were interested.
What are the main results of our review?
When compared to placebo, NB-UVB may:
- improve signs of eczema assessed by a healthcare professional (1 study, 41 people);
- increase the number of people reporting less severe itching (1 study, 41 people);
- increase the number of people reporting moderate or greater improvement of eczema, measured by the Investigator Global Assessment scale (IGA), a 5-point scale that measures improvement in eczema symptoms (1 study, 40 people); and
- have no effect on the rate of people withdrawing from treatment due to unwanted effects (3 studies, 89 people).
None of the studies assessing NB-UVB against placebo measured health-related quality of life.
We do not know if NB-UVB (compared with UVA1 or PUVA) or UVA1 (compared with PUVA) has an effect on the following:
- signs of eczema assessed by a healthcare professional;
- patient-reported eczema symptoms;
- health-related quality of life; and
- withdrawals due to unwanted effects.
This is because either we are not confident in the evidence, or they were not reported.
We did not identify any studies that investigated UVA1 or PUVA compared with no treatment.
Some studies reported that phototherapy caused some unwanted effects, including skin reactions or irritation, UV burn, worsening of eczema, and skin infections. However, these did not occur in most people.
What are the limitations of the evidence?
Our confidence in the evidence is limited, mainly because only a few studies could be included in each comparison, and the studies generally involved only small numbers of people.
How up to date is this evidence?
The evidence is up to date to January 2021.
Cochrane Nigeria recently launched as a full Cochrane Centre. Here they reflect on their journey and contributions over the past 15 years.
Cochrane takes hold in Nigeria
The story of Cochrane Nigeria dates back to 1998 when Prof. Martin Meremikwu, by chance met Prof. Paul Garner, the Coordinating Editor of the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group, at the Centenary celebration of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Prof. Garner introduced Prof. Meremikwu to the Cochrane Collaboration and gave him a head start in the conduct of systematic reviews. In 1999, Prof. Meremikwu conducted his first systematic review on “Blood transfusion for treating malaria anaemia”. He went on to convince as many colleagues of his as he could to learn the art of preparing Cochrane systematic reviews; working from a small office at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Calabar, which was later moved to a more spacious office at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital. He mentored them through personal and group mentorship programmes, regular in-house training, hands-on experience as co-authors/authors of systematic reviews and by sharing Cochrane Collaboration literature.
In the bid to build capacity to conduct systematic reviews in the country, an initial group of five young potential Cochrane review authors under the oversight of Prof. Meremikwu received support from the Effective Health Care Research Programme grant held by Prof. Paul Garner to attend 4-week Systematic Review fellowship at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. During the fellowship they received direct mentoring and coaching and also participated in the Critical Appraisal Module of the Master’s in International Public Health Course. Among these forerunners were Prof. Angela Oyo-Ita (Community Physician), Prof. Afolabi Lesi (Paediatrician), Prof. Godwin Aja (Public Health), Prof Bosede Afolabi (Obstetrician), Prof Christy Okoromah (Paediatrician) and Dr. Oluseyi Oniyangi (Paediatrician). Today, they are all accomplished academic researchers and professionals who have continued to contribute to the work of Cochrane while promoting and building capacity for evidence-based healthcare in their home institutions and at various levels of influence. Prof. Afolabi Lesi currently Chairs the Advisory Board of Cochrane Nigeria.
In September 2005, more young Nigerian researchers and health professionals were supported by the Nuffield Foundation to attend a one-month Cochrane Protocol Development Course organized by the South African Cochrane Centre (SACC) under the auspices of the Reviews for Africa Programme (RAP). Some of these authors were later invited to the RAP Finishing School in 2006. The effort of Prof. Jimmy Volmink (then Director of the SACC), Mrs. Joy Oliver, Mrs. Elizabeth Pienaar and Prof. Taryn Young towards making the experience of participants at the RAP course an unforgettable one is worth mentioning.
Capacity and contributions grow
Following the increase in the number of Cochrane authors in the country and the capacity of the Nigerian authors to conduct high quality systematic reviews, the Nigerian Branch of the South African Cochrane Centre was formed in 2006 with Prof. Martin Meremikwu as the Branch Director and Prof. Angela Oyo-Ita as the Deputy Director. In 2017, Cochrane African Network was formed with Cochrane Nigeria leading the West African Hub of the network.
Some of the notable contributions of Cochrane Nigeria to global health were conduct of systematic reviews and provision of technical input towards WHO Guideline on Female Genital Mutilation; systematic review on “Seasonal Malaria Chemoprophylaxis” and “Artemether for Severe Malaria” on which the current WHO guidelines on the management of these health conditions are based. The Centre collaborated with the Federal Ministry of Health to develop a guideline on the management of diabetes. In partnership with professional groups, it has provided support for the production of guidelines for the management of community acquired pneumonia in children, hypertension and post-partum haemorrhage.
A cross section of Cochrane Nigeria Directors, Staff, and Associates
Full Cochrane Centre launched
Cochrane Nigeria attained full Centre status in December 2020 following the approval of its application by the Governing Board of Cochrane. Cochrane Nigeria had been an associate centre under Cochrane South Africa. Today, Cochrane Nigeria has nodes strategically located in the different parts of the country. The Centre is running with the clear mandate of promoting collaboration and evidence based health care policy and practice in the country through:
- Production of high quality and high priority systematic reviews
- Dissemination of Cochrane reviews to relevant stakeholders using channels such as social media, newsletters, podcasts and mass media
- Multilingual translation of relevant reviews
- Translation of evidence from reviews into policy and practice
- Refining the methods of Cochrane reviews
Cake to commemorate the Launch of Cochrane Nigeria
Launch of Cochrane Nigeria as a full Cochrane Centre
Cochrane Nigeria recently hosted the 4th Cochrane Africa Indaba. Cochrane Africa is a network of Cochrane entities in sub-Saharan Africa established in 2017. A key highlight of the Conference was the Launch of Cochrane Nigeria as a full Cochrane Centre. The event brought together a number of notable personalities from various organizations including the World Health Organization Nigeria, European Union delegation to Nigeria and the ECOWAS, National Health Insurance Scheme, and Federal Ministry of Health – all key stakeholders in evidence based health care in Nigeria.
With the formal launch of Cochrane Nigeria on the 13th July 2021 at the National Hospital, Abuja, the Centre now has a good launching pad for engagement with relevant stakeholders for the achievement of its core mandates in the country and continent. What started as a humble beginning in 1998 has now metamorphosed into a global movement, impacting on the health of people globally. The days ahead look very promising as we hope to engage more meaningfully with relevant stakeholders and policy makers, increase capacity for the production of high priority systematic reviews that will inform national and global policies and practices, strive for a strong national presence and support evidence-based decision making processes in the Federal Ministry of Health and other health-related sectors of the country.
Prof. Martin Meremikwu (Director, Cochrane Nigeria). Prof. Afolabi Lesi (Chair, Advisory Board, Cochrane Nigeria) being interviewed by the Press.
Prof. Angela Oyo-Ita (Co-Director, Cochrane Nigeria) giving opening remarks. Dr. Anthony Ayeke (EU Delegation to Nigeria & Ecowas) and Prof. Martin Meremikwu (Director Cochrane Nigeria).
Monday, November 1, 2021
Featured review: Reduced breast density following endocrine therapy as an indicator of breast cancer risk
Featured review: Are there ways to improve stop‐smoking treatment in primary care to help more people to quit smoking?
Featured review: Do invitations, lay health worker interventions and educational interventions increase the uptake of cervical screening?
Cochrane Library Editorial: It’s time to increase the global relevance of Cochrane Reviews by applying an ‘equity lens’
Health inequities, defined as avoidable and unfair differences in health, have been worsening within and between countries. This has been brought to the forefront by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A newly published Cochrane Library Editorial puts forth that it is time to increase the global relevance of Cochrane Reviews by applying an 'equity lens'. An equity lens is defined as a focus on health equity to ensure that the most hard-to-reach groups within a population benefit, while avoiding intervention-generated inequalities.
To support review authors in applying an equity lens, Cochrane has created a number of useful resources, including:
- Campbell and Cochrane Equity Methods Group's resources
- Cochrane Handbook chapter about health equity
- Cochrane interactive learning health equality module
The editorial also provides additional suggestions to authors to create a Cochrane Review that help equip decision makers to determine the applicability of evidence to their setting, resulting in facilitating the implementation of programs and policies that may contribute to reductions in global health inequities.
- Read the Editorial 'It's time to increase the global relevance of Cochrane Reviews by applying an ‘equity lens'
Thursday, October 28, 2021
Cochrane is pleased to announce the launch of a new network of institutions from across India that will promote evidence-informed health care and policy in the country.
The Cochrane India Network launched in an online event today featuring keynotes from prominent national and international presenters, including the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research Dr Balram Bhargav; Dr Vinod Paul who is a member of NITI Aayog; WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan and Cochrane’s Editor in Chief Karla Soares-Weiser. Presentations from each of the affiliate institutions followed, and the event concluded with plenary sessions related to resources available for contributors of the Network.
The Cochrane India Network is chaired by Dr. Meenu Singh and Dr. Anju Pradhan Sinha, and comprised of teams from nine affiliate institutions, including:
- All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
- Christian Medical College Vellore
- India Council of Medical Research, New Delhi
- Indian Institute of Public Health, Hyderabad
- Institute of Dental Sciences, Bhubaneshwar
- King George’s Medical University, Lucknow
- Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal
- Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh
- Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai
The Network Affiliates each have their own strategic plan with Cochrane activities they wish to implement. Activities vary from training in the use of Cochrane systematic reviews, sharing information about new reviews published by Cochrane and advocating for their use in policy and practice, to the production of systematic reviews.
Judith Brodie, Cochrane’s Interim Chief Executive Officer, said of the Network’s launch: “I am excited by the expertise and diverse focus of the Affiliates in the Cochrane India Network, and so pleased to see them join together to advocate for evidence-informed health and care in India.”
Speaking about the launch, Dr. Meenu Singh, Co-Chair of the Network, said, “The launch of Cochrane India Network is a long-cherished dream of all the ‘Cochranites’ from India. Working with Cochrane for more than 20 years, it has provided an opportunity for development of in-house Cochrane products with global applications for evidence-based healthcare. The institutions involved in the Network will act as vehicles of Cochrane methodology for carrying out systematic reviews and help translate evidence into policy and practice.”
Dr. Anju Pradhan Sinha, Network Co-Chair, added, "The establishment of the Cochrane India Network is a significant milestone in India's journey on the path of evidence-informed decision making. The activities coordinated through the Network will lead to the effective implementation of evidence in clinical practice and policy making."