National public health institutes and WHO collaborating centres, and their global networks, are a key resource to support public health system strengthening with essential public health functions and generate evidence for health policy central to national health and socioeconomic development. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare global inequities in public health capacities, made urgent the need to examine sources of global knowledge and understand how to better invest in and use public health institutes and their capacities. This analysis paper incorporates experiences and perspectives from the WHO and International Association of Public Health Associations including the ongoing pandemic and work conducted in the UK-WHO Tackling Deadly Diseases in Africa Programme'. We acknowledge geographical disparities in public health capacities both within and across countries and regions, provide examples of novel ways of working for global health actors, and define the challenging environment in which public health authorities operate. We identify four incentives for all countries to invest in public health and strengthen institutions: (1) transparency and trust; (2) socioeconomic dividends; (3) collective health protection and (4) knowledge sharing and equity. By pursuing shared priorities; enabling voices from low-resource settings to be more equitably heard; facilitating collaboration and learning within and across regions, we articulate actionable next steps to develop and better harness public health institutes and international networks.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information: This work was partly undertaken within the context of the UK Department for International Development (DFID—now part of the FCDO) funded WHO Tackling Deadly Diseases in Africa Programme (TDDAP), with the aim of strengthening the collaboration between the health system and health security clusters to promote health security and build resilient health systems. Appreciation goes to colleagues in WHO: Zandile Zibwowa, Redda Seifeldin, Geraldine McDarby, Yu Zhang, Pascal Abie, Humphrey Karamagi, Prosper Tumusiime, Benson Droti, Rajesh Sreedharan, Ed Kelley, Ruediger Krech, Gerard Schmets and Soumya Swaminathan; Sante Publique France: Anne-Catherine Viso; and the University of Edinburgh: Mark Hellowell.
This article was developed as part of WHO and IANPHI’s core work.
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Citation: Jakab Z, Selbie D, Squires N, et al. Building the evidence base for global health policy: the need to strengthen institutional networks, geographical representation and global collaboration. BMJ Global Health 2021;6:e006852.
- health education and promotion
- health policy
- health systems
- public health