Using evidence in global public health policy: the WHO-Cochrane partnership

Cochrane is an NGO in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO) since 2011. In June we reported to the WHO what this partnership has resulted in during these years.

 Following is a snapshot of results, illustrating the use of Cochrane’s work by WHO:

  • As of June 2015, 405 reviews from 34 Cochrane Review Groups have been used to inform 144 WHO guidelines and other evidence-based recommendations published between 2008 and 2015 (June). In 2013, as many as 80% of WHO guidelines were informed by Cochrane Reviews.

  • The WHO Guidelines Review Committee Secretariat regularly organizes workshops and seminars on a variety of topics of relevance to guideline development. In 2013 and 2014, 23 out of the 38 seminars and workshops involved presenters and facilitators from Cochrane Central Executive, Centres or Branches.

  • Cochrane Reviews are also used by applicants to the Essential Medicines List (EML) and by the EML Secretariat. A quick review showed that in 2011, six out of 15 applicants used Cochrane Reviews. In 2013, this number was seven out of 18.

  • Cochrane works with the Reproductive Health Library and the e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA), in making systematic reviews available in these thematic areas of work. More than 300 systematic reviews are currently available through these platforms that jointly attract close to 4 million visitors annually.

Collaboration happens in a variety of other areas.

While the above is already quite impressive, more work needs to be done. One key challenge is timeliness – ensuring that Cochrane Review Groups have sufficient time to respond with high-quality reviews to the priorities of WHO. The plan of work for 2016-2018, currently being developed, outlines a number of strategies that will address this challenge, aiming at further improving the uptake of reviews by WHO. We will share the final plan of work through the Community Newsletter later this year. In addition, a Special Session is organized jointly with the WHO at the Vienna Colloquium, which will encourage further discussion on ways to strengthen our strategic partnership with WHO.