A glimpse inside Evidence Aid’s COVID-19 project

Authored by Ahmad Firas Khalid

My name is Ahmad Firas Khalid, most people call me Firas. My journey with Evidence Aid started four years ago when I was working on completing my Health Policy PhD at McMaster University on supporting evidence use in decision-making in crisis zones. As part of my PhD, I decided to evaluate Evidence Aid’s website by interviewing more than 30 decision-makers working in crisis zones around the world. Fast forward years later, and I am now a research manager at Evidence Aid.

My job entails ensuring that review summaries relevant to COVID-19 published on Evidence Aid’s website are robust, high-quality, clearly written and accessible to our user groups. I also work with the CEO and other staff to identify potential partners, particularly in low-and-middle income countries, with whom Evidence Aid can work to promote evidence uptake around COVID-19, among other responsibilities. I’d like to share some insights into Evidence Aid’s COVID-19 project:

1. ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’ – African proverb

Evidence Aid’s COVID-19 collection is one of the best available evidence repositories on COVID-19 today. This would not have been possible without our team of exceptionally dedicated individuals, many of whom are volunteers, working hard at translating the best available evidence to inform users around the world.  For the past few months, the team and I have been working around the clock, collating and summarising all COVID-19 evidence. We now house a large repository of COVID-19 systematic review summaries translated into seven different languages, with more than 139,424 users of our website since mid-March this year.

2. Providing information to allow for a transformational approach

Evidence at time of crisis is scattered around different databases, journals, websites and in the grey literature, and one of the added advantages of using Evidence Aid is that we provide COVID-19 related evidence in a digestible format to help inform decision making. To do so, we ensure that all COVID-19 related reviews undergo a prioritisation process for inclusion into our collection. The reviews then undergo a series of steps to generate a summary based on the review. With the help of dedicated summary writers, editors, and expert opinions we are able to put together an evidence summary that includes all the key elements needed to help inform transformational approach to dealing with the pandemic.

3. Time is of the essence

There is currently an explosion of COVID-19 research and reports and at Evidence Aid we try our best to filter the blizzard of noise to provide the most robust and accessible evidence to our users. We recognise that decision-makers dealing with COVID-19 want reliable, easy to access and to understand research evidence and our goal is to provide exactly that. Our main priority right now is to deal with duplication of COVID-19 research projects. We are increasingly witnessing repetition of reviews on the same topic and are actively working at combining summaries on the same topic so that they are more user-friendly.

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge everyone involved with research evidence, which is increasingly becoming an essential component of informing decisions. My hope is that at Evidence Aid we are able to continue informing decision-making globally, but we can’t do this work alone. We need the support of volunteers and funders to continue this important work.

If everyone who viewed our coronavirus resources gave us just £2 per month, it would fund our life-saving work. If you’re able to, please consider making a donation.

Ahmed Firas KhalidAhmad Firas Khalid is an MD, a health policy researcher, and a lecturer on health systems and policy. Firas completed his PhD in Health Policy at McMaster University with a focus on supporting the use of research evidence to inform decision-making in crisis zones. Previously, Firas worked as a health policy researcher at the Research Unit on Humanitarian Stakes and Practices (UREPH) at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Geneva, Switzerland. He also worked in the department of Child and Maternal Health at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Firas has expertise in medicine, education, health policy, knowledge translation and health emergencies working with relief and intergovernmental organizations.