Evidence Synthesis Ireland

Latest News

Time to take action, use evidence, and address societal challenges

The Health Research Board (HRB) has joined with the Evidence Commission to ensure that the best evidence is made available to address societal challenges now and in the future.

Evidence commission logo

A Report released today (27 January 2022) by the Global Commission on Evidence to Address Societal Challenges highlights the opportunity that policy and decision makers have to advance the best use of evidence during the pandemic and to apply the same priority and approaches to societal challenges such as health system performance and climate change.

Welcoming the news, Dr Mairéad O Driscoll, Chief Executive at the HRB, said:

“The decision to partner with the Evidence Commission to promote the recommendations in this global initiative was an easy one. It aligns with the HRB’s commitment to ensure research is supported and conducted to deliver evidence that decision makers and practitioners, as well as public and patient partners, can use to advance treatments and services, shape policy and improve people’s health.”

“We must now re-think how we make decisions, build better evidence support systems, and establish global evidence networks to tackle common challenges affecting us all. This is applicable not just to our own area of health and social care in Ireland, but across Government and society internationally.”

The Commission’s report released today gives 24 recommendations for action by multiple stakeholders to ensure best evidence is used to address societal challenges. Among its top recommendations are:

  • Government policymakers need to support fit-for-purpose national evidence support systems bringing together resources, experts and decision makers
  • Governments, foundations and other funders should invest more in evidence use
  • Multilateral organizations such as the United Nations should broaden their concept of evidence, and support global initiatives to use it
  • The World Bank should outline evidence architecture needed globally, regionally and nationally
  • The public should consider making decisions about well-being based on best evidence and supporting politicians who commit to using evidence to address societal challenges and support its everyday use.

Speaking about the initiative, Professor Declan Devane, Director of Evidence Synthesis Ireland (ESI) and Cochrane Ireland (All-Ireland initiatives funded by the HRB and the Research and Development Division of the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland) says:

“We recognise how critical evidence is for our planet. We all make decisions every day from those about our health to those that impact climate change. These decisions require trustworthy research evidence to be both available and easy to understand.”

The Evidence Commission report defines “evidence” as research evidence comprising data analytics, modelling, evaluation, behavioural/implementation research, qualitative insights, evidence syntheses, technology assessment/cost-effectiveness analysis, and guidelines. The report recognises the value of both local and global evidence.

Irish initiatives including Evidence Synthesis Ireland, Cochrane Ireland, HRB-CICER, the HRB-Clinical Trial Networks and many others have helped address fundamental questions facing the world before, during and after COVID-19. Collectively, researchers, funders and decision makers have sought to think globally while acting locally to meet the evidence needs of our health system.

According to Dr Teresa Maguire, Director of Research Strategy and Funding with the HRB:

“Ireland can reflect positively on how we responded and continue to respond to the unparalleled demand for evidence throughout the pandemic. It became commonplace to hear senior Government officials and decision makers saying: ‘We will be guided by the science.’  This was made possible due to consistent Government investment in research and innovation, including HRB investment across our health research and evidence ecosystem for the last 20 years.

“We look forward to engaging with stakeholders to learn what worked well, what did not work as well, and where lack of critical infrastructure impacted on what was possible to ensure Ireland continues to generate the evidence needed to address societal challenges, nationally and internationally.”

According to John Lavis, co-lead of the secretariat for The Global Commission on Evidence to Address Societal Challenges:

“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve never before seen so much interest – from political leaders of many political persuasions and in diverse countries – in drawing on evidence to inform their response. This is an incredible opportunity to dramatically up our game in supporting political leaders to use evidence to address societal challenges at a global, national and local level.”

The Evidence Commission report: A wake-up call and path forward for decision-makers, evidence intermediaries, and impact-oriented evidence producerswill be available in seven languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish).


For further information please contact:

Martha Connolly, Communications Officer, Health Research Board

m +353 85 859 0250, e  mconnolly@hrb.ie

Editor’s notes:

Read the full report.

Follow the Evidence Commission on Twitter

Follow the Evidence Commission on LinkedIn

Sign up to receive updates via the Evidence Commission e-newsletter

Attend one of the Evidence Commission’s launch events:

27 January, 8-9am EST/1-2pm GMT

28 January, 9-10am AEDT (for advanced time zones)

You will also be able to access recordings of the launch webinars in multiple languages on the Evidence Commission website.

About the Health Research Board

The Health Research Board (HRB) is Ireland’s lead public funding agency supporting innovative health research and delivering data and evidence that improves people’s health and patient care. We are committed to putting people first, and ensuring data and evidence are used in policy and practice to overcome health challenges, advance health systems, and benefit society and the economy.

About the Global Commission on Evidence to Address Societal Challenges

The Evidence Commission grew out of a global network of 55 partners—the COVID-19 Evidence Network to support Decision-making (COVID-END) came together to provide a more coordinated evidence response to COVID-19 and first identified the need for the commission (Evidence Synthesis Ireland is a member of COVID-END). The Evidence Commission brought together 25 commissioners including government policymakers, organizational leaders, professionals and citizens who address a range of societal challenges in their respective roles. The Evidence Commission is funded by partners in three countries and its secretariat is hosted at the McMaster Health Forum at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.