The Evidence Aid project was established following the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in December 2004. It uses knowledge from Cochrane Reviews and other systematic reviews to provide reliable, up-to-date evidence on interventions that might be considered in the context of natural disasters and other major healthcare emergencies. Evidence Aid seeks to highlight which interventions work, which don’t work, which need more research, and which, no matter how well meaning, might be harmful; and to provide this information to agencies and people planning for, or responding to, disasters. Read more about our origins and research priorities here and see our progress on a timeline here.
Our Mission Statement
“To inspire and enable those guiding the humanitarian sector to apply an evidence-based approach in their activities and decisions.”
“Those in need receive humanitarian aid in the most timely, effective and appropriate way possible.”
- Establish Evidence Aid as the influential ‘go-to’ organisation for the evidence based approach towards humanitarian action.
- Uphold and promote the value of evidence in health outcomes across sectors.
- Identify the gaps in evidence for humanitarian aid and build the resources and network to address them.
- Raise the capacity and commitment of those who guide the humanitarian sector to implement an evidence based approach.
Evidence Aid is a co-ordinated, international initiative to improve effective and timely access to systematic reviews of relevance to natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies. It was established after the Indian Ocean tsunami of 26 December 2004, with input from several members of The Cochrane Collaboration, Cochrane entities and other individuals and groups and has a global focal point in the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, and a small staff team based in the UK. Evidence Aid works with partners and contributors around the world to achieve its aim of providing people and organisations with the knowledge tools they need to make well informed decisions and choices in their efforts to improve health following disasters and other humanitarian emergencies.
The current staff comprises Jeroen Jansen (full-time Director) and Claire Allen (Operations Manager, 4 days a week) in addition to Mike Clarke who is based at the Centre for Public Health in Queen’s University Belfast. The impact of Evidence Aid is currently being evaluated by Dominic Mellon, a Public Health Specialty Registrar based in Bristol, as part of a part-time PhD research project supervised by Mike Clarke at Queen’s. During 2012, a number of people approached Evidence Aid to work as volunteers. For instance, Shona Lang (an experienced systematic reviewer and researcher) is devoting one day per week to Evidence Aid, in particular to assess potential funding opportunities. Shona has taken a lead role in preparing contextual summaries of systematic reviews for the new Evidence Aid website. Other volunteers have a range of international experience in public health, humanitarian relief and systematic reviews.
Initially, the Advisory Group for Evidence Aid grew out of the work done following the Indian Ocean tsunami and was made up of members of The Cochrane Collaboration, reflecting that early work; with a core of Mike Clarke, Paul Garner, Sally Green, Pisake Lumbiganon and Prathap Tharyan. The group grew during 2010 and 2011, with Sally Green standing down due to other commitments. In 2012, Caroline Fiennes (see profile below) joined the Advisory Group and Jini Hetherington and Pisake Lumbiganon have stood down. In 2014, Lorne Becker stood down due to other commitments. The current membership of the Advisory Group is listed here.
A short statement can be found here that summarizes our mission statement and recent impact on governments and frontline organisations around the world. A share-able leaflet with more information can be downloaded here in a mobile-ready version and here in a print-ready version.
During 2013, we hope to achieve:
The Evidence Aid survey has shown that the demand for reviews and contextual summaries of these will be high and highlights the importance of prioritisation. Partnerships with aid agencies and relevant research centres will be crucial to this. A particular emphasis for 2013 will be strengthening links with organisations that Evidence Aid is already working with, to formalise partnerships and establish long term working relationships.
Elements of Evidence Aid were included in the 2012 renewal proposals for the Centre of Excellence for Public Health and the Hub for Trials Methodology Research in the Centre for Public Health in Queen’s University Belfast. If approved, this funding will start in the second half of 2013. Other opportunities are also being pursued.
In March 2013, Evidence Aid presented an oral presentation, three posters and an online presentation at the 28th ALNAP Annual Meeting in Washington and had a dedicated session and presentations at Evidence Live 2013, in Oxford. Three abstracts have been accepted for oral presentations at the WADEM conference in May 2013, in Manchester and abstracts have been submitted for the 20th Cochrane Colloquium in Québec and the Public Health England conference.
A key event in 2013 will be the prioritisation workshop in June. The workshop facilitators have considerable experience of this type of workshop through their work in the James Lind Alliance, and will use that process to prioritise the top 10 topics for research and reviews relevant to interventions and actions in disasters. Aid agencies, academics, funders and policymakers will take part.
The workshop will be followed by the 3rd Evidence Aid Conference in 2014, which we hope will be held in Rwanda.
Further Evidence Aid workshops will be offered in 2013 in the UK and Ireland and, possibly, on the African continent. An assessment of relevant Masters level courses will continue, leading to the development and implementation of additional training resources.
More than 100 people have completed the Needs Assessment Survey; the survey remains open online and we will continue to analyse any responses that come in, and use those to help us prioritise. Additional results of the survey have been published recently in PLOS Currents: Disasters.
The 2nd Evidence Aid conference was held in late October 2012, co-hosted by the International Red Cross, Brussels and with the theme Disaster Aid. It was attended by 85 people and it included a prioritisation workshop.
The preliminary results of the Needs Assessment survey clearly showed that there was no equivalent to Evidence Aid or the vision we have for the disaster management field at present. This gave us the basis for our first priority setting exercise. In August 2011 Claire Allen was employed as Knowledge Manager and progress got underway to identify Cochrane Reviews of relevance to disaster settings.
Evidence Aid held its first conference in Oxford in the UK in September 2011. Seventy people attended, mostly from aid agencies, NGOs funders of humanitarian research, and publishers of such research. The outcome of that meeting reaffirmed our plans to progress Evidence Aid in the way we were doing.
Between 2004 and 2010 no dedicated funding for Evidence Aid was available. In 2010, the Advisory Group and Cochrane Collaboration’s Editorial Unit developed four freely available ‘Special Collections’ (www.thecochranelibrary.com) for earthquakes; flooding and poor water sanitation; burns; and post traumatic stress disorder.
In 2010, funding was sought and obtained from, among others, The Cochrane Collaboration, John Wiley and Sons Ltd, Porticus, and McCall McBain, and in the latter part of 2010 – Bonnix Kayabu (Evidence Aid Co-ordinator) was employed to carry out a Needs Assessment which would inform the direction of Evidence Aid.