By Dr Tamara Kredo, Cochrane South Africa
Image credit: Global Evidence Summit
Cochrane South Africa, is the local host to the first ever Global Evidence Summit to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, 13 – 16 September 2017. Five leading Global organisations, namely Cochrane, the Guidelines International Network, The Campbell Collaboration, the International Society for Evidence-based Health Care, and the Joanna Briggs Institute, are joining forces to host an event with the theme: Using evidence. Improving lives.
The Summits intention was always to stimulate fresh thinking on how to generate and package information on what works to better impact on people’s lives. Now, with one month to go, the Summit programme is showcasing leaders in international healthcare and development along with many of the world’s experts in the production, synthesis and use of high-quality evidence across disciplines.
The Summit promises to offer opportunities for learning, networking, sharing, growing and giving, in a programme that considers issues that are Africa relevant. Here are my top reasons to be there:
Reason # 1: Africa relevant
Africa remains in the news, infectious diseases, including recent outbreaks of Ebola and the growing scourge of non-communicable ailments make it most opportune that this Summit includes a focus on Africa-relevant evidence. The first plenary entitled ‘EVIDENCE FOR AFRICA: How evidence is changing communities across one continent’ will set the scene with speakers Ruth Stewart, Patrick Okwen and Trevor Manual sharing their experiences.
With the appointment of the new WHO Director General, Dr Tedros, many of us are hoping that this African borne leader will re-energise and advance conversations about how best to address health and social issues here. This Summit can contribute to the growing awareness of the importance of using evidence-informed strategies to address the continents challenges.
Cochrane South Africa will also launch the Cochrane Africa Network. Although working collaboratively for many years, we are now formally registered with the strategic vision to increase the use of best evidence to inform healthcare decision making in the sub-Saharan African region
Reason 2: Broad reaching programme
Having watched as the scientific programme evolved, and while preparing for this blog, my excitement is renewed at the breadth and calibre of the programme. I’m not sure how delegates will choose between the many outstanding sessions! The bravely intersectoral programme encourages us to exchange ideas about how to best generate, summarise and communicate evidence to inform policy and practice across disciplines. Input from a multitude of perspectives including education, social and criminal justice, environmental and gender health, health systems and clinical care and practice is anticipated. The programme includes 5 plenaries; 12 threaded sessions to expand on the plenary thinking through discussions. There are special sessions to explore key issues and offer solutions and opportunities for cross-pollination of ideas. There will also be 99 long and 100 short orals sessions and 559 posters.
Here’s a glimpse at the plenary line up:
Plenary 1: EVIDENCE FOR AFRICA: How evidence is changing communities across one continent. The objectives of this plenary are to understand how the African continent deals with evidence from policy to practice, through examples and overview of networks and activities.
Plenary 2: Breaking down the silos: Digital and trustworthy evidence ecosystem. This plenary will set out to understand how explicit links between actors are needed – and now possible – to close the loop between new evidence and improved care, through a culture for sharing evidence combined with advances in methods and technology/platforms for digitally structured data.
Plenary 3: EVIDENCE FOR EMERGING CRISES: How international collaboration and innovation can solve global humanitarian crises, such as Ebola. This plenary explores how evidence generated through international collaboration and innovations can solve emergent global crises and what is needed to prepare for future epidemics, using Ebola as an example
Plenary 4: EVIDENCE IN A POST-TRUTH WORLD: The evidence, ethos and pathos. How scientists can engage, and influence the public, press and politicians. This session will include an academic overview of argumentation theories that have drawn and built on Aristotle’s early work, as well as presentations from a science journalist working in controversial fields and a social media analyst who studies the spread of news (real and ‘fake’).
Plenary 5: EVIDENCE FOR EQUITY: How evidence can achieve a more equitable world, for everyone. This plenary describes how evidence plays a role in achieving a more equitable world.
Reason # 3: Learning opportunities
No need to leave the continent to receive top class learning opportunities. The Summit follows the Cochrane model where capacity building is a focus of the event. Bringing together the world’s top names means not only the scientific programme is great, but that those present can share their knowledge and skills through workshops. Lead by both African and international facilitators, there are 83 workshops to choose from. Topics cover priority setting, advanced methods for synthesis, considerations for complex interventions, creating and disseminating clinical guidelines, relevant practical philosophy, the art of storytelling to name a few.
Reason # 4: Networking
There are currently almost 1300 delegates from at least 67 countries registered to come to Cape Town (figure 1). Delegates represent different sectors including researchers and scientists; policy makers and managers; and consumers and activists from the health, development and social justice fields. The Summit will be a chance to meet, network and dialogue.
Generous stipends from Cochrane, Wellcome Trust, Doris Duke Foundation, WHO’s TDR, and South Africa’s National Research Foundation have enabled us to award an unprecedented 98 stipends for attendance of consumers, post-graduate students and delegates from lower and middle income countries.
Reason # 5: Giving back
In addition to all the Summit offers, participation will also mean giving back to sectors of the South African community. We have a programme of social responsibility in which all delegate back packs can be donated to a high school in Khayelitsha that supports youth interested in science and maths. We will host a crafters market to support local traders; our lanyards are recycled and made by men at a correctional facility in the Western Cape. We also have ethical approaches to minimising water and food waste. In addition, delegates can attend gumboot dancing lessons to learn about a traditional miners dance – they will have a chance to show off their fancy foot work at the Gala dinner ‘dance-off’.
Dr Tamara Kredo is a senior specialist scientist and Deputy Director of Cochrane South Africa based at Cochrane SA, South African Medical Research Council. Cochrane South Africa the privileged local host for this exciting event.
For more details on dates, registration and scientific programme: