Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine's Cochrane Infectious Disease Group has developed a portfolio of priority evidence-based reviews to help underpin the policies of COUNTDOWN. This will include:
- Examination of the underpinning research for key ingredients of the MDA policies
- Examine what is known from the existing literature about using CHWs in vertical programmes
- Work with partners who have identified practical research questions in constructing appropriate protocols for systematic reviews
We are also exploring collaboration with specialists in evidence synthesis to summarise literature around community responses to mass drug administration programmes. This theme aims to help inform the planned applied social science and health economics work, and provide a base for synthesising the outputs of these components.
Well-conducted, up-to-date systematic reviews provide “best evidence” when answering healthcare questions about neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), and researchers, clinicians, and public health policymakers can use findings from these reviews to inform their thinking. There are now a substantive number of high-quality systematic reviews in NTDs, some of which – including the review of albendazole for filariasis and the review of community deworming programmes – have generated considerable debate. There is evidence that the field of NTDs has historically tended to ignore evidence from trials when formulating policies, although clearly this will have to change. There is, therefore, a need for researchers to know how to identify, read, appraise, interpret, and carry out systematic reviews.
Activities in this area include: an assembly of a special collection of Cochrane NTD reviews; an update of the Cochrane review of community deworming programmes for soil transmitted helminths; participation in the global debate on mass deworming compared with treating children with symptomatic infection; updating of Cochrane NTD reviews via the infectious diseases group; and one to one support and training to COUNTDOWN researchers on carrying out systematic reviews. In the next two years, we will conduct two Cochrane reviews on NTDs which will focus on COUNTDOWN countries.
Evidence Synthesis Workshops
We have had and continue to have workshops to build capacity at the local level for our partners to identify, interpret and appraise systematic reviews of their research as it progresses. The workshops also provide a platform to facilitate cross-talk between different groups and allows for closer interaction between COUNTDOWN partners.