Can qualitative evidence inform health policy and practice? RCSI researchers shared their experiences and findings at the first global Qualitative Evidence Symposium.
In the second week of October researchers, academics, policy makers, WHO representatives and other stakeholders from across the world came together in the capital city of Brazil, Brasilia, in occasion of the first world symposium (QESymposium) on the use of qualitative evidence to inform decisions in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Over 600 delegates joined the event, in-person or virtually, to exchange experiences and share ideas on how to use qualitative evidence more effectively in discussions with policy makers and implementers.
Under Sustainable Development Goal 3 the international community has committed to ensure healthy lives and well-being for all, with the target of achieving universal health coverage and a ⅓ reduction in deaths from non-communicable diseases by 2030. Surgery plays a critical role in achieving these targets. READ MORE HERE. Obstructed labour, birth defects, cataracts, cancer, diabetes, acute abdominal conditions, burns and injuries from road accidents, just to name a few, are all conditions for which surgery is one of the primary clinical solutions and some of these are expected to become increasingly common in the coming years. Without a surgical system that is functional it will be unlikely to meet the current demand for health care, let alone achieving universal health coverage. WATCH A VIDEO
Quantitative evidence is useful to e.g. assess gaps in the system, but eliciting the views of service providers and service users on the ground is essential in identifying what works in practice and under what conditions.
Our conference presentation reported on our work in Zambia, demonstrating qualitative lessons learned from the Medical Licentiate training programme we have been supporting. A second presentation focused on how qualitative evidence can be used to set priorities when combined with qualitative results, and uncovering ‘the invisible’ for national health planning. We used the example of our recent study assessing anesthesia capacity in Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania.
We learned from others about the power of ‘storytelling’ as a means to engage with policymakers. There were great examples of how this technique was used in the combat against the Zika virus in some countries in South America. Stay tuned for updates on how we are planning to utilise the qualitative evidence to advocate for global surgery.