The battle of interpreting research results to specific audiences

Originally posted on Nordic-EBM:


Evidence-based medicine has been called “cookbook medicine” by some of its more vocal critics. This implies that evil faceless organisations like Cochrane aim to turn all healthcare workers into mindless automatons who blindly follow dictums derived solely from scientific evidence. I hope it doesn’t surprise many in that this has never been the aim of Cochrane, or EBM in general, nor will it ever be. EBM, or EBP if you prefer the term ‘practice’ rather than the more vague ‘medicine’, is a belief system that rests on three pillars (cf. five in Islam). The EBM pillars are: 1) best available scientific evidence (i.e. the purview of Cochrane and yours truly), 2) clinical experience and 3) patient preferences and values. So, the main gist is that evidence doesn’t matter – no matter how scientific – if we don’t have a clinician at hand to interpret it for the benefit of…

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Introducing the start of Cochrane infographics

Originally posted on visually cochrane:

Let’s begin at the beginning

Infographics in Cochrane – what’s that supposed to mean? Well, it’s an idea. I could claim it as my own but I’m sure that there are many others who have had similar Heureka-moments years ago. For example, see this poster presented in Hyderabad. Also infographics as a whole have been around for centuries already. Especially when it comes to health issues, one has to mention Florence Nightingale’s elegant creation depicting causes of death in the Crimean war. So I stay well clear of declaring any originality in that department. What then is all the fuss about? My idea, or vision, or inspiring mental itch if you will, is that it would be really cool to have a visual format for presenting results of Cochrane reviews, something like an intuitive pictorial Plain Language Summary. As there aren’t ready off-the-shelf solutions, it is up…

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Guest column : Doctor ‘scarcity’ a crisis of numbers or leadership? #UHC

Originally posted on Apothecurry:

Dr Raman KumarA recent article in the Indian Express reported statistics from India’s National Health Mission to highlight what it called “a debilitating shortage” of health specialists in the country. In doing so, it only reaffirmed what several experts, committees, and policy wonks have said all along: India needs more doctors.

For the longest time, India’s healthcare problem has been defined as one of numbers. Doctor demand outstrips supply, we are told. The accent has been on creating supply (predominantly in the private sector) to address this perceived shortage. I use the word “perceived” because the problem does not lie in numbers alone. What India faces is a full-blown leadership crisis caused by the systematic undermining of primary care physicians and the disproportionate clout wielded by super specialists in medical regulation against the backdrop of a lacklustre public health system.

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Interview with HIFA Country Representative of the Year 2014 : Didier Demassosso , Cameroon

Didier Demassosso from Cameroon has won the  HIFA Country Representative of the Year 2014 . An interview with him by Isabelle

Isabelle – What is the role of a HIFA representative and what activities you have undertaken in relation to this?

Didier – A HIFA representative must allow a maximum of people to know, adhere to the idea of HIFA and make them participate in the online discussion forum of HIFA.He/she should promote the HIFA everywhere. I have talked about the HIFA to my university teachers, my colleagues in psychology, psychiatrists, decision-makers, psychology student, and physicians. I have promoted during the promotion of mental health in Cameroon in 2014 and early 2015. I have also promoted the HIFA in an advocacy manner in my blog (http: // www


Didier Demassosso, Cameroon – HIFA Country Representative of Year Award 2014

Isabelle – What have been the contributions of HIFA for yourself, your organization, your country?
Didier – HIFA gave me a lot and still does till today. I have always been very sensitive to information as a tool for personal development. As a clinical psychologist at the end of his training and guidance counsellor, being a HIFA representative has been a way to use my skills pragmatically and evaluate them in a new area for me.

I can say that I do a bit of health communication and education for health ever since I am a HIFA representative. I have never as much set into perspective all my skills until now . It is not enough to be a representative of the HIFA; one most have a passion for health and management of information and knowledge referring to it. One must be able to mobilize a large amount of knowledge to solve information-related problems physicians, the layman,researcher, and policy makers ask. It is important to remember that I work in a context where the concept of “health literacy” is not included as a priority. Now I have a very clear vision of my professional carrier of my strengths and weaknesses at the professional level.
As a student in the Psychology Department of the University of Yaoundé I, I talked about the HIFA to my teachers and my classmates. A good amount of them are now member of HIFA. It is true that I have not extended my representative activities across the Cameroonian territory. This is an important goal this year. Nevertheless,
policymakers, important authorities of Cameroon are members of the HIFA. I’m sure
they now understand the importance of health care related information. For example, I had the support of Dr. Laure Menguene, Psychiatrist and Chief of Department of the Sub-Directorate for the Promotion of Mental Health and Psychiatry of The Ministry of Public Health. She allowed the HIFA I can say to be a friend of the Promotion of Mental Health in Cameroon. I could through her collaboration speak about the HIFA during coordination meetings of the Sub-Directorate for the Promotion of Mental Health and Psychiatry in the presence of clinical psychologists, former mental patients, psychiatrists, nurse specializing in Mental Health and theologian. I am seen to approach other makers, and researchers in the field of health to allow greater awareness and to be sensitive to information in health and health care.
Isabelle – What are the benefits, opportunities and challenges as HIFA representative of your country?
Didier – Being a HIFA representative, I could easily be listened by major research
organizations I approached, I can name EMERALD. I also felt I was listened by
foundations, and even Cameroonian authorities. Thanks to this position I could be
“empowered” to do important things for my country. However, as a HIFA representative for Cameroon, I am only a volunteer member yet with the responsibility to Promote the HIFA. I receive as benefits related to my membership,access to a significant amount of resources, links to scientific information in the field of health and related sectors. I also have the advantage and the opportunity to be in contact and collaborate with WHO authorities such as you Isabelle, I’m very honoured (smiles).
Despite the benefits and opportunities of the HIFA in terms of networking and developing my skills, I have many logistical difficulties. The internet is still not
readily accessible and affordable in Cameroon despite progress since some time. I
would have liked to use the internet to the maximum because many Cameroonians
are more and more online. But I cannot. Besides, participating in HIFA online discussions really helps in sharing and knowledge building and yet requires regular online presence that requires access to the Internet. I also find it very difficult to
improve the communication on the promotion of HIFA. I have attended and organized many conferences where the HIFA could have been visible if there were adequate communicational supports. In the school where I work I will like to have posters or any other material that may have a wider communication impact. Finally,the Cameroonian context even if it is fond of information is hardly interested in scientific information and its consumption. This is perhaps because there is no real communication and dissemination of research results. I am very interested in the dissemination of research products as part of changing attitudes. Valid information can truly make a difference. In brief, I believe that promoting HIFA can only be done by also promoting the concept of “health literacy”!

Join HIFA for free at

Conflicts of Interest : Dr. Soumyadeep Bhaumik had won the HIFA Country Representative of the Year Award previously

Dr Neil Pakenham-Walsh  HIFA Coordinator with a plaque mentioning the importance of HIFA

Dr Neil Pakenham-Walsh HIFA Coordinator with a plaque mentioning the importance of HIFA

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Nepal Earthquake : Response by Evidence Aid, Cochrane.

The news about devastation caused by  the Earthquake in Nepal today has caused grief and suffering to a large number of people- the impact  of which is yet to be completely assessed. Evidence Aid, which provides resources for decision-makers before, during and after disasters and other humanitarian emergencies, is immensely grieved by the disaster that has struck the region.

Evidence Aid ( was established following the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in December 2004. It uses knowledge from systematic reviews to provide reliable, up-to-date evidence on interventions that might be considered in the context of natural disasters and other major healthcare emergencies. Evidence Aid seeks to highlight which interventions work, which doesn’t work, which need more research, and which, no matter how well meaning, might be harmful; and to provide this information to agencies and people planning for, or responding to, disasters. Evidence Aid collaborates with a number of humanitarian organisations around the world and are very keen to work with groups around the world to ensure that the resources reaches them and if people have questions or uncertainties that they collect them and try to address them if possible.

Evidence Aid does not know of disaster management organisations in Nepal and assume that many of them are now very busy with the dreadful situation with the earthquake which recently occurred. If you or your colleagues know any of the humanitarian groups involved, it would be great if you would kindly forward the resources detailed below, directly to them, copying Claire Allen the  Knowledge Manager if possible so that they can contact her, if needed.

The resources are available here (Click) and  is a searchable resource for all disaster-related systematic reviews, both Cochrane and non-Cochrane). There is a ‘Special Collection’  for Earthquakes by Evidence Aid (Click-Open Access and Free)in the Cochrane Library . This contains only Cochrane systematic reviews and is not searchable.

Message From Claire Allen,Knowledge Manager , Evidence Aid 

If there are additional questions and issues that either you or your colleagues or contacts have and would like Evidence Aid to consider or respond to, I would be very happy to work with you or them and explore whether it is possible to find resources for them. My contact details are below.


Skype: claireallencochrane


Twitter: @evidenceaid

Evidence Aid : Providing resources for decision-makers before, during and after disasters and other humanitarian emergencies

Evidence Aid : Providing resources for decision-makers before, during and after disasters and other humanitarian emergencies

Note: The message is being posted in blog on request of Evidence Aid on a good will basis.

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Misplaced priorities in the Union Health Budget 2015

The Union Budget presented on 28 February 2015 in the Indian parliament has allocated only INR 33,000 crores for health. It allocates more funds for building newer tertiary care hospitals and increases income tax exemptions for buying health insurance. The article explains that model that is being followed, as indicated by these measures, will create havoc to the lives of Indians and make them sicker and healthcare costlier. The budget is not in line with the actual priorities of India’s health system and nor paves the road map for Universal Health Coverage. The Government of India needs to gets its priorities right.

Read the Commentary by Dr Soumyadeep B published in J Family Med Prim Care here (Open Access)



Is intermittent short-course anti-TB regimen as efficient and safe as daily anti-TB regimen for treating childhood TB?

Childhood tuberculosis (TB) is a common clinical condition in low- and middle-income nations like India where TB is endemic. Different guidelines vary in the recommendations on treatment regimes for childhood TB. Apart from clinical outcomes the decision to use one regimen over another also has an implication in the form of health system burden. The evidence summary presents the comparison between the intermittent regimens with the daily anti-TB regimen for childhood TB.

Read the Evidence Summary at JFMPC (Click) Open Access



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