By Gabriela Lamarca & Mario Vettore (ENSP/FIOCRUZ)
In January 2015, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) launched a report highlighting the success of the 'Centre for Evaluation’, established in 2012. The Centre has coordinated and promoted internationally-renowned evaluation studies with the ultimate goal of improving evidence for action on public health at national and global levels.
The aim of ‘The Centre’ is to support the development, application and dissemination of rigorous methods aiming to improve the design and implementation of public health evaluations as well as to facilitate the use of robust evidence to inform policy and practice decisions.
Currently, research funders have been applying four main criteria when supporting future studies on evaluation as follows: cost-benefit, transparency, rigorous independent evaluation and focus on the results. Moreover, it has been crucial the clear understanding of what types of global health initiatives work, for whom and under what circumstances. Therefore, the mission of the ‘Centre for Evaluation' is to develop and apply rigorous methods on health programmes evaluation, including those involving complex interventions.
The Centre’s premise is to identify and understand what interventions, programmes, policies and system changes improve the population’s health. In terms of design and analysis, the complex nature of most public health interventions requires innovative thinking with regards evaluation. The report of LSHTM (http://evaluation.lshtm.ac.uk/files/2013/01/LSHTM-CFE-booklet-interactive.pdf) presents some examples of pragmatic evaluations of complex interventions as they are delivered in real systems. In terms of allocating resources, economic evaluation is needed to answer an inevitable question: how much does it cost? At the Centre, the answer comes through the use of standard methods on cost effectiveness. In terms of the impact of policy evaluations, a range of methods has been applied, including systematic reviews, evaluations through questionnaires, and evaluations to demonstrate the feasibility of a routine collection of such measures before and after elective operations.
It is notorious that the evaluations conducted by the LSHTM have a major impact on local, national and global health policies and practice. This is often acknowledged through research conducted for several years, which has been providing solid evidence for health policies formulation, planning and implementation. However, training people for the future, through their ‘Evaluation Teaching Programme’, have also been an important issue. Building up skills and gaining knowledge on a wide range of methods and techniques related to the evaluation is paramount, as well as the possibility to promote the interchange of experiences between countries.
You can learn more about The Centre for Evaluation here: http://evaluation.lshtm.ac.uk/