Cochrane Africa: Bridging gaps with evidence across the continent

Cochrane Africa Network logo

Cochrane's strength lies in its collaborative, global community. Cochrane Geographic Groups represent Cochrane in their host countries, advocating for the use of Cochrane evidence in health policy and practice, and supporting Cochrane's members and supporters locally. Here, we spotlight the impactful work of the Cochrane Africa Network, dedicated to increasing the use of best evidence to inform healthcare decision-making across Africa. 

Cochrane Africa was officially launched at the Global Evidence Summit in Cape Town in 2017, building on partnerships across Africa dating back to the 1990s. The network comprises a Co-ordinating Hub in South Africa based at the Health Systems Research Unit at the South African Medical Research Council; a Francophone Hub directed from Cochrane Cameroon; a Southern African Hub directed from the Centre for Evidence-based Healthcare at Stellenbosch University, South Africa; an East African Hub directed from Cochrane Kenya; and a West African Hub directed from Cochrane Nigeria. The network's main objectives are to deliver timely, high-quality responses to priority questions relevant to global health and sub-Saharan Africa, build capacity to conduct Cochrane Reviews, advocate for evidence-informed decision-making, and increase access to and usability of Cochrane products. Cochrane Africa’s current projects include the Global Evidence Local Adaptation (GELA) project, Cochrane Africa Authorship Guidelines, priority setting to identify review topics for each region, and translation of Cochrane review plain language summaries.

The GELA project, established in 2022 and funded by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, aims to enhance evidence-informed guideline recommendations for newborn and young child health. By engaging with stakeholders, GELA has identified local priorities and capacity needs, supporting decision-makers in developing and implementing country-specific guidelines.

Pictures from Cochrane Africa

"Cochrane Africa's work through the GELA project maximises the impact of evidence for poverty-related diseases by increasing the capacity of decision-makers and researchers to use global research for locally relevant guidelines," says Solange Durão, Cochrane Africa Co-Director. This initiative builds on a large-scale programme of child-health guideline development led by the World Health Organization, with adaptation and implementation led by the WHO Afro regional office, country offices, and national ministries. Via the GELA project Cochrane Africa collaborates with several international partners, including the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Western Norway University of Applied Science, Stellenbosch University, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Cochrane, and the MAGIC Evidence Ecosystem Foundation. 

Cochrane Africa

The network's work has significantly impacted healthcare practices, policies, and knowledge in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in TB, HIV, and COVID-19. Through capacity-building initiatives, Cochrane Africa has developed a robust field of evidence-based healthcare on the continent, with many current leaders in the region being graduates of these training programmes. Cochrane Africa also has a long-term collaboration as part of the READ-It project which is based at the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group. Up to 2023, READ-It has contributed to: 13 global policies or guidelines; 9 national policies or guidelines; 73 high-impact systematic reviews; 10 method topic areas; and specifically published 29 high-impact reviews or methods papers led by authors from low- and middle-income countries.

Looking ahead, the Cochrane Africa Network is excited about hosting the Cochrane Africa Indaba in 2025, an international evidence-based health care conference. It will be led by the East Africa Hub at Cochrane Kenya. "Our future projects will continue to build on our strong foundation, advancing evidence-informed decision-making and improving healthcare outcomes across Africa. We're especially excited for the anticipated 2025 Cochrane Africa Indaba and our training workshops and fellowship programmes. The network also has a long history of developing capacity in Africa to conduct Cochrane and other systematic reviews and develop the field of evidence-based healthcare on the continent. Some of the current leadership in Africa are ‘graduates’ of these training initiatives - and we are looking forward to helping create the next generation of leaders! " notes Tamara Kredo, Cochrane Africa Co-Director.

Cochrane Africa

Cochrane Africa welcomes support and collaboration to amplify their impact. If you are interested in contributing to their mission as authors of Cochrane systematic reviews, identifying priorities for future reviews, participating in research projects, raising awareness about Cochrane in your scientific community, writing summaries or commentaries on Cochrane Africa Reviews, or helping to secure funding for their activities, please fill out a short form.

Friday, July 5, 2024