Press release: Despite imminent threat of closure, Evidence Aid staff pull out the stops on COVID 19 to be sure that practitioners and journalists really are being ‘Guided by the Science’

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Despite the imminent threat of closure, Evidence Aid staff pull out the stops on COVID 19 to be sure that practitioners and journalists really are being ‘Guided by the Science’

COVID-19 and the global response to it are placing unprecedented demands on health systems and populations across the world. Decision-makers are under pressure to respond quickly but they should be transparent about the scientific evidence they are using, which has to be made freely available to them. The global, national, local and personal response needs to be informed by reliable evidence drawn from robust research.

Evidence Aid, a registered charity in the UK, is dedicated to identifying, collating and making accessible the scientific evidence on how best to respond to COVID-19. Although the need for such a resource is widely recognised and Evidence Aid’s work is welcomed internationally, it has struggled to find the funding to do this vital task. However, recently-awarded funding from the Humanitarian-to-Humanitarian (H2H) Network will allow Evidence Aid to make plain language summaries of high quality research relating to COVID-19 freely available via its website (www.evidenceaid.org).  Along with other H2H Network grantees, Evidence Aid will use the funds to limit the global and regional impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) by disseminating evidence from the latest research to the general public, scientific community and decision-makers around the world.”

Yet without sustained support, Evidence Aid cannot provide the comprehensive, global research portal that is so desperately needed for the many other health disasters and humanitarian emergencies that occur every year, often without attracting global attention. Nor can it maintain the capacity it needs to respond quickly when major disasters or emergencies occur.

This is a great concern. Billions are spent globally every year on disaster response, tens of millions goes into its evaluations but no-one seems able to make available the few hundred thousand pounds that would build the collections of evidence required to support both response and preparedness, and to underpin the vital decisions that need to be made.

As Professor Mike Clarke, Research Director of Evidence Aid and Chair of Research Methodology in the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, said today:

“Evidence Aid was on the verge of closing down until it was thrown this lifeline to work on COVID-19. What is desperately needed now is the funding to provide core support for the internationally important work. This would allow it, and its resources to be a constant, up-to-date presence for people needing access to reliable evidence when responding to disasters and other emergencies, large or small”

For more information and interview opportunities with Professor Mike Clarke, the Chair of Trustees or Ben Heaven Taylor the CEO, please call Sue Wolstenholme on +44 7967 582957

Editors’ notes

Evidence Aid’s purpose is that, before, during and after disasters, the best available evidence is used to design interventions, strategies and policies to assist those affected or at risk

. We seek to achieve this in three principal ways:

  1. We increase availability and accessibility of high-quality, usable evidence. We do this by collating, synthesizing, translating and reformatting evidence so that it is accessible for practitioners. More than 30,000 people accessed the resources on our website in 2019;
  2. We work to enhance responsiveness of research to the needs of those making decisions about disasters. We do not generate primary research, but we convene and broker effective research partnerships between those who generate evidence and those who use it. Our evidence collection on malnutrition, for instance, drew together 25 separate organisations, including top researchers and many of the leading humanitarian agencies;
  3. We work to improve skills, behaviours, attitudes, decision-making structures and incentives support evidence-based action in disasters. Evidence Aid works to challenge the sector to do better, working with donors, humanitarian agencies, research bodies, journalists and other opinion formers to improve the quality of humanitarian aid.

Evidence Aid’s COVID-19 collection is being produced in close collaboration with Oxford-based health science communications company Oxford Pharmagenesis.

As well as for COVID 19, Evidence Aid has summarised evidence on many other topics, with summaries available in French, Spanish and English. These include:

Acute malnutrition – Prevention and treatment in emergencies and humanitarian crises

Earthquake resources

Ebola resources

Refugees and asylum seekers in Europe – Health of

Windstorms resources

Zika resources

 

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