Objectives To report on the experiences and challenges of the Research Advisory Council (RAC) of the Maternal and Child Health Directorate (MCHD) at the Federal Ministry of Health, Ethiopia.
Method Review of products (e.g. policy briefs, technical reports, systematic reviews), meeting minutes and terms of reference of the RAC was supplemented with interview of key persons in the establishment and operation of the advisory council.
Results The RAC is composed of university researchers, partner organizations and staff from the Directorate. We found that the RAC regularly (4-6 times per year) meets to consider policy relevant questions from the MCHD. The maternal thematic group of the RAC produced a technical report based on a systematic review which the group conducted. This report was used by the MCHD to make the decision of including uterine balloon tamponade (UBT) and Non-pneumatic anti-shock garment (NASG) in the guideline for the management of PPH. The child health thematic group led an implementation research (IR) to test the feasibility and acceptability of treatment of young infants with possible serious bacterial infection (PBSI) by community health workers. This led to the inclusion of this approach in the national guideline for management of sick infants. Its voluntary nature and dependence on external funding were the key challenges.
Conclusions The RAC has proved to be instrumental in bridging the disconnect between those who produce evidence and those expected to use it. Planned efforts to integrate the operation and funding of the RAC in the regular annual plan of the Directorate is recommended.
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