Since liberation in 1971, Bangladesh has experienced significant improvements in health and population indicators. Much of this health improvement took place in the last two decades, and coincided with improved social and economic indicators too. Thus, at present, Bangladesh is on track to meet its commitments to the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals. However, the country faces significant challenges in maintaining its achievements. In the health sector, the ongoing progress may be hampered by limited technical and managerial capacity of the health systems managers and policymakers and lack support from national and international health institutes to enhance capacity of evidence use and strategic information management in the health policy making process.
Icddr,b in collaboration with University College London, UK and Futures Group International India Pvt. Ltd. are awarded a global competitive grant entitled ‘Strengthening capacities of national health authorities and icddr,b for better health policies and strategies for improved outcomes’ by European Union (EU) for a five-year period (Jan 2015-Dec 2019) in order to strengthen the capacity of researchers and policy maker at individual, organizational and institutional level.
The overall objective of the project is to support evidence-informed public health policy-making in Bangladesh, leading to progress towards universal health coverage (UHC) and improved health equity, particularly for urban poor and those suffering from non-communicable diseases (NCDs). To achieve this, efforts will be made to strengthen public health institutions concerned with both the “supply” and the “demand” for high quality evidence in policy cycles in Bangladesh. The aim is to: (1) strengthen the capacity of public health institutes in Bangladesh to engage with key decision makers to promote evidence-informed policy-cycles; and (2) strengthen the capacity of policy influencers and policy implementers to access, analyze and appropriately use high quality evidence in health policy and practice.
As a part of strengthening the capacity of institutions a Systematic Review Centre is going to be established by the Department of Public Health & Informatics of BSMMU. The overall objective is to build the capacity of BSMMU to conduct systematic reviews and to initiate a new systematic review centre there. Through joint effort and activities, the capacity of both BSMMU and icddr,b to undertake systematic review and meta-analysis will be strengthened. The topics are likely to include identification of low cost affordable interventions to prevent and treat NCDs in low income countries, evidence for equitable health interventions for the urban poor and other topics of emerging public health issues relevant to the overall goals of the project. Gender and equity perspective will be taken into consideration when finalizing research question.
To ensure the success of the Systematic Review Centre a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) will be formed to periodically provide guidance during the project years. There will be 3-4 TAG meetings yearly during this time.
Expected outcome from the Systematic Review Centre is, BSMMU and icddr,b will be strengthened to undertake systematic reviews and meta-analysis and will be able to publish on topics of project importance in high quality journals.
The Systematic Review Centre of BSMMU will be strengthened with support from icddr,b and University College of London. This Centre will act as a Centre for Excellence for Health policy and System Research. They will coordinate with Centre for Systematic Reviews at icddr,b and other regional networks and work on policy priority areas drawing on in-country expertise and international, if required, for gathering evidence, developing policy briefs, undertaking systematic reviews and meta-analysis and presenting these finding to policy makers through Research Policy Communication Cell of the DGHS using multiple channels.