Cochrane has launched the Cochrane Africa network to increase the use of best evidence to inform healthcare decision making across sub-Saharan Africa.

The Africa Network consists of regional centres including its co-ordinating centre at Cochrane South Africa, which is a research unit of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), and the establishment of hubs at Stellenbosch University, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital in Nigeria and Yaoundé University in Cameroon.

Cochrane Africa is part of the global, independent Cochrane network of researchers, professionals, patients, carers and people interested in health. The network will promote evidence-based decision making in healthcare across the sub-Saharan African region by supporting and training new authors of Cochrane Reviews, as well as working with clinicians, professional associations, policy makers, patients and the media to encourage the dissemination and use of Cochrane evidence.

Since the late 1990s, African collaborators have worked to improve the production of high-quality, Africa-relevant reviews and to support their use in policy and practice through stakeholder engagement and capacity building. In 2007, the informal Cochrane Network was created to build on this track record and to enhance and expand these activities.

Reviews from Africa have informed several national and international guidelines, particularly in the areas of malaria, TB, and HIV/AIDS.

“Cochrane SA has been investing in building capacity and relationships on the African continent over many years, and it is now wonderful to see the vision of a formally registered Cochrane African Network coming to fruition,” said Cochrane Africa Founding Director, Jimmy Volmink.

Cochrane Africa will be co-ordinated by Cochrane SA, which will offer methodological support, mentoring and supervision to the regions.

“The launch of the first-ever Cochrane Africa Network is very important, both to sub-Saharan Africa and globally,” said the Director of Cochrane SA, Charles Wiysonge.

“Producing and increasing the dissemination of the best-available information on healthcare is critical for clinicians and patients everywhere in the world, including Africa. We wish to build partnerships to promote evidence-informed healthcare in collaboration with African leadership, and create further opportunities to grow the network,” continued Wiysonge.

“Healthcare will benefit from the increased presence of Cochrane’s work in sub-Saharan Africa. Conducting relevant reviews based on priority setting, identification of research gaps, and regional stakeholder needs is going to stimulate and focus our actions relating to the care of patients based on strong scientific evidence,” said Solange Durão from the Cochrane Africa Coordinating Unit.

“Many African countries will benefit from this collaboration as we welcome new contributors to build capacity by providing learning and mentoring opportunities for conducting and using relevant Cochrane systematic reviews,” continued Durão.

“The continent’s health and healthcare challenges are huge, and with limited resources and fragile health systems in many countries it is more important than anywhere else in the world that the decisions of Africa’s doctors, nurses and policy-makers are made on the basis of the best evidence,” said Cochrane’s CEO, Mark Wilson.

“Cochrane Africa will deepen and expand the scope, reach and impact of Cochrane evidence on health and healthcare decision making; as well as developing Africa’s own production of high-quality evidence amongst its clinicians, researchers and academics,” concluded Wilson.

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