“What do you see as the major challenge of bringing evidence to policy makers in real time?”
A major issue is that it is very difficult to get data quickly. We therefore need to establish processes and systems to allow us to conduct “quick and dirty” data collection which we can use to influence policymakers. One successful example is our USAID-funded research project on kangaroo mother care (KMC), the practice of providing, directly after birth, continuous skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby.
We started the baseline study and immediately had our data, which matched the same findings of other bodies of evidence clearly demonstrating the positive health outcomes. Before our results had been published, we analyzed and presented our preliminary findings to the management team of the hospital we were studying, including doctors in the neonatology ward. Seeing the “quick and dirty” evidence, the hospital updated their strategic plan and budget for the following year to make KMC a top priority, including creating a KMC unit. There are mothers today who are joyfully holding healthy infants because of champions in the hospital’s policy and management systems who understood the importance of rapid implementation.