Translating tuberculosis research into global policies: the example of an international collaboration on diagnostics

A Ramsay, K R Steingart, J Cunningham, M Pai
International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease 2011, 15 (10): 1283-93
Using the example of an international collaboration on tuberculosis (TB) diagnostics, we mapped the key stages and stakeholders involved in translating research into global policies. In our experience, the process begins with advocacy for high-quality, policy-relevant research and appropriate funding. Following the assessment of current policy and the identification of key study areas, policy-relevant research questions need to be formulated and prioritised. It is important that a framework for translating evidence into policy at the target policymaking level, in this case global, is available to researchers. This ensures that research questions, study designs and research standards are appropriate to the type and quality of evidence required. The framework may evolve during the period of research and, as evidence requirements may change, vigilance is required. Formal and informal multi-stakeholder partnerships, as well as information sharing through extensive networking, facilitate efficient building of a broad evidence base. Coordination of activities by an international, neutral body with strong convening powers is important, as is regular interaction with policy makers. It is recognised that studies on diagnostic accuracy provide weak evidence that a new diagnostic will improve patient care when implemented to scale in routine settings. This may be one reason why there has been poor uptake of new tools by national TB control programmes despite global policy recommendations. Stronger engagement with national policy makers and donors during the research-intopolicy process may be needed to ensure that their evidence requirements are met and that global policies translate into national policies. National policies are central to translating global policies into practice.

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