Evidence Aid was established as a charity in 2015. It uses knowledge from 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 alleviate suffering and save lives by providing the best available evidence on the effectiveness of humanitarian action and enabling its use.”
- To increase the use of the best available evidence in humanitarian emergency response.
- To develop understanding of the aims and objectives of Evidence Aid among our peers and those who influence the humanitarian sector.
- To become financially sustainable to achieve these objectives.
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 Cochrane, Cochrane groups 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 Ben Heaven Taylor (Chief Executive Officer), Claire Allen (Operations Manager, 4 days a week), and Jane Higgins (Office Administrator, 3 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 has been partially evaluated by Dominic Mellon, a Public Health Specialty Registrar based in Bristol, as part of a part-time research project. 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. Kristin Ringstad has taken on the role of social media co-ordinator and disseminates information through our communication channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Other volunteers have a range of international experience in public health, humanitarian relief and systematic reviews.
Board of Trustees
In August 2015, Evidence Aid established a fully functional Board of Trustees. Initially, there were three Trustees – Professor Mike Clarke (Chair), Dr Phil Davies, and Lady Deborah Dixon. In January 2016, Mrs Sue Wolstenholme became a Trustee and, in May 2016, Mr Michael Stone became a Trustee. Since then, Deborah Dixon has taken the role of Treasurer. The initial three Trustees have a term of office for four years (until 2019) and subsequent Trustees have a three year term of office (until 2019).
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 Cochrane, 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 2016, the Board of Trustees for Evidence Aid decided to disband the Advisory Group, replacing it with independent Advisors with key skills needed by Evidence Aid. The current list of Advisors can be found 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.
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.
Between 2004 and 2010 no dedicated funding for Evidence Aid was available. In 2010, the Advisory Group and Cochrane’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, Cochrane, John Wiley and Sons Ltd, Porticus, and the McCall MacBain Foundation, 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.
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.
In 2014, Evidence Aid were awarded the Unorthodox Prize and received follow on funding from the Lampert Family Foundation.
In 2015, Evidence Aid received funding from the McCall MacBain Foundation, and in 2016, were successful in obtaining funding from the C&A Foundation, John Wiley and Sons Ltd, (publishers), and the Lampert Family Foundation.
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.
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.
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 was be followed by the 3rd Evidence Aid Conference in 2014, which was held in Hyderabad, facilitated by the South Asian Cochrane Centre, and the fourth conference will be held in November 2016 in Washington D.C. in the USA.
Evidence Aid workshops have been offered in the UK and Ireland. In November 2016, the first Evidence Aid workshop will be held in the USA, as a precursor to the 4th Evidence Aid Conference. An assessment of relevant Masters level courses will continue, leading to the development and implementation of additional training resources.
More than 100 people completed the Needs Assessment Survey which guided the progress of Evidence Aid from 2011 – 2014. Results of the survey were published recently in PLOS Currents: Disasters.
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 (subsequently moving to Operations Manager) and progress got underway to identify Cochrane Reviews of relevance to disaster settings.