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 South African Initiative for Systematic Reviews on Health Policies and Systems (SAI)  

Background
Systematic reviews offer one important benefit over primary research, in that it synthesises the results of several primary studies. Ideally, the review will also grade the strength of the evidence presented in the respective primary studies, as is the case for all Cochrane reviews. The Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (AHPSR) has recently funded the establishing of a centre for systematic reviews on health policies and systems research which is hosted by the Health Systems Research Unit (HSRU) of the South African Medical Research Council (MRC). The centre, called the South African Initiative for Systematic Reviews on Health Policies and Systems (SAI) is part of an AHPSR project which aims to:

  1. Develop institutional capacity in low - and middle-income countries for conducting and packaging of systematic reviews on health policies and systems research;
  2. Conduct reviews that are policy-relevant at the national level and could be relevant to the needs of other countries in the region; and
  3. Disseminate the reviews and related products to potential users, particularly decision-makers, and to promote their uptake and use.

The AHPSR have established review centres, similar to the SAI, in Chile, China and Lebanon. Three partner institutions, namely the Oslo Satellite of the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organization of Care (EPOC) Group; the EPPI-Centre, Institute of Education, London; and the Effective Health Care Research Programme Consortium, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine are collaborating with the AHPSR to provide guidance and technical support to the review centres.

Steering Committee
In ensuring that our activities align with the AHPSR’s objectives, we have established a Steering Committee responsible for overseeing the centre’s activities.

Advisory Group

  • Prof. Brian van Wyk (Academic) (School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, South Africa)
  • Prof. Di McIntyre (Academic) (Health Economics Unit, University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa)
  • Dr. Jesse Uneke (Academic) Health Policy & Systems Research Project, Ebonyi State University, Nigeria
  • Dr. Karen Jennings (Policy maker) City of Cape Town, Department of Health, South Africa
  • Dr. Keith Cloete (Policy maker) Western Cape Government: Department of Health, South Africa
  • Prof. Leslie Bamford (Policy maker) National Department of Health, South Africa
  • Dr. Sassy Molyneux (Academic) KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya

Priority setting for health systems research review questions
The SAI is mandated to complete four systematic reviews by June 2015. The Steering Committee invited a number of public health policy makers and academics to assist in identifying review topics that are relevant and considered as priority questions that needs to be answered.

From a survey to 154 academics and policy makers, including some from sub-Saharan countries other than South Africa, a total of 90 review priorities were received. With input from the Advisory Group, the Steering Committee selected the final four topics and established author teams for the respective reviews.

As part of the priority setting process, a list of citations was compiled
which details available reviews on the topics received.

The four systematic review questions that will be hosted by the SAI are:

Question 1: Access to medicine

Community-based interventions to improve access to medicines for patients with chronic life-long conditions in resource-constrained settings and hard-to-reach population groups: A scoping review.
The author team is:
Lead author

  • Bvudzai P. Magadzire (School of Public Health (SOPH), University of the Western Cape)

Co-authors

  • Karen Daniels (HSRU, MRC)
  • Brian van Wyk (SOPH, University of the Western Cape)
  • Hazel Bradley (SOPH, University of the Western Cape)

Current status

  • Registered with EPPI Centre
  • Full text screening underway
Question 2: Routine Health Information System (RHIS) interventions to improve health systems management

The author team is:
Lead author

  • Natalie Leon (Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council)

Co-authors

  • Ameer Steven-Jorg Hohlfeld (Western Cape Department of Health)
  • Bey-Marrie Schmidt (PhD candidate, University of Cape Town)
  • Arrie Odendaal (Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council)
  • Anthony Hawkridge (Western Cape Department of Health)
  • Virginia Zwiegental (Western Cape Department of Health)
  • Karen Daniels (Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council)

Current status

  • Protocol published with Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care (EPOC) Review Group in December 2015
  • Abstract and title screening has commenced
Question 3: mHealth

Healthcare workers’ perceptions and experience on using mHealth technologies to deliver primary healthcare services: qualitative evidence synthesis

The author team is:

Lead author

  • Arrie Odendaal (Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council)

Co-authors

  • Jane Goudge (Centre for Health Policy, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand)
  • Francis Griffith (Social Science and Systems in Health Research, Division of Health Sciences, Warwick Medical School)
  • Mark Tomlinson (Department of Psychology, University of Stellenbosch)
  • Natalie Leon (Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council)
  • Jocelyn Watkins (PhD student, Warwick Medical School)
  • Karen Daniels (Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council)

Current status

  • Protocol published with Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care (EPOC) Review Group in November 2015
  • Abstract and title screening has commenced
Question 4: Contracting out

Contracting out to improve the use of service and health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries

  • An update-review of Lagarde & Palmer, 2009, The impact of contracting out on health outcomes and use of health services in low and middle-income countries

The author team is:
Lead author

  • Arrie Odendaal (Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council)

Co-authors

  • Dereck Chitama (Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Science, School of Public Health and Social Sciences, Dar es Salaam)
  • Henry Uro-Chukwu (Public health policy maker, Ebonyi State, Nigeria)
  • Jesse Uneke (Health Policy & systems Research Project, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Nigeria
  • Kim Ward (SPOH, UWC)

Current status

  • The review has been completed and the manuscript is being peer-reviewed.

Current status of our reviews
Please access each review question for an update of its current status. Should you wish to receive any more information on any or all of the reviews, or wish to inform us of your particular interest in our reviews, please contact: Arrie Odendaal (SAI coordinator): willem.odendaal@mrc.ac.za

How to find evidence pretty darn quickly
Have you been struggling to find evidence on your health systems related research questions? Then watch our webinar on: Finding reliable and up-to-date evidence to inform health systems and population health decisions: An online webinar on using the PDQ-Evidence database

Download the presentation of the webinar by clicking this link: What is PDQ-Evidence

  • Presented by: Gabriel Rada ( Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile; Co-founder and President of the Epistemonikos Foundation) in conjunction with the ARCADE project of the Karolinska Institutet and the Epistemonikos Foundation in Chile.
   
Useful resources to health policy and systems research and systematic reviews

The Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research aims to promote the generation and use of health policy and systems research (HPSR) as a means to improve health and health systems in developing countries.

The South African Cochrane Centre is the only Cochrane Centre in Africa and serves as the reference Centre for individuals in the following African countries: Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Cochrane Collaboration is a global independent network of health practitioners, researchers, patient advocates and others, responding to the challenge of making the vast amounts of evidence generated through research useful for informing decisions about health. It is a not-for-profit organisation with collaborators from over 120 countries working together to produce credible, accessible health information that is free from commercial sponsorship and other conflicts of interest.

The Norwegian Satellite of the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care (EPOC) Review Group [the link stays the same] aims to support the production of Cochrane reviews that address health systems questions relevant to low- and middle-income countries.

PDQ (pretty darn quick) - evidence for informed health policy-making. The site provides quick access to the best evidence for informing decisions about health systems.

Health Systems Evidence is the world's most comprehensive, free access point for evidence to support policymakers, stakeholders and researchers interested in how to strengthen or reform health systems or in how to get cost-effective programs, services and drugs to those who need them.

The EPPI-Centre is committed to informing policy and professional practice with sound evidence. It is involved in:

  1. Systematic reviews: This includes developing methods for systematic reviews and research syntheses, conducting reviews, supporting others to undertake reviews, and providing guidance and training in this area. 
  2. Research use: This includes studying the use/non-use of research evidence in personal, practice and political decision-making, supporting those who wish to find and use research to help solve problems, and providing guidance and training in this area. 

Campbell Systematic Reviews is the peer-reviewed monograph series of systematic reviews prepared under the editorial control of the Campbell Collaboration. Campbell Systematic Reviews summarise the international research evidence on the effects of interventions in crime and justice, education, international development, and social welfare.

3ie (International Initiative for Impact Evaluation) funds impact evaluations and systematic reviews that generate high quality evidence on what works in development and why. Evidence on development effectiveness can inform policy and improve the lives of poor people.

National Voices, the health and care charity coalition, is launching a new set of take-away resources which set out the best ways to engage people and make person centred care happen. Called Evidence for Person Centred Care, this rich set of resources is designed to make it easy for commissioners and providers to access, understand and make use of the best evidence for various approaches to involving people in their health and healthcare. Five ‘simple guide’ booklets can be quickly downloaded to use in making value cases for patient and service user involvement.”

 

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Last updated:
17 July, 2017
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