Accepted Paper:

Evidence-informed policy networks and the making of knowledge in Uganda  

Author:

Nele Jensen (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on a study of the WHO’s Evidence-informed Policy Network (EVIPNet) activities in Uganda, this paper examines the contestations over who, how, and where decides what counts as legitimate knowledge to inform healthcare policy.

Paper long abstract:

'Evidence-based' or 'evidence-informed' policy has become something of a shibboleth, separating the good from the bad in healthcare decision-making and indispensable to improving health especially in what are still commonly referred to as "developing" countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, urges countries to strengthen 'knowledge translation' capacities and to align national healthcare policies with 'global' scientific evidence. As a key vehicle, WHO's Evidence-Informed-Policy-Network (EVIPNet) is conceived as a 'global, regional and country level social network' (EVIPNet 2015) and 'living laboratory' (Hamid et al. 2005) that promotes the systematic use of research evidence in policymaking.

This paper draws on the ethnographic study of WHO's Evidence-informed Policy Network (EVIPNet) activities in East Africa. Focusing on evidence making practices at EVIPNet Uganda, I explore the tensions that arise when narrow definitions of and demands for scientifically-validated evidence-for-policy - usually in the form of meta reviews of experimental research findings - rub against practitioners' desire for 'local' and context-specific evidence. But also how associated attempts to include other forms of knowledge might expand who, how and where decides what counts as legitimate evidence or not.

Panel T045
New Collective Practices of Measurement, Monitoring and Evidence