Systematic reviews addressing a wide range of healthcare questions, and drawing on a range of different study designs, are increasingly available in the literature. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews currently considers Cochrane Reviews on the effectiveness of health interventions and the accuracy of screening and diagnostic tests, as well as overviews of reviews and methodology reviews. November 2013 marks an important milestone for The Cochrane Collaboration with the publication of a review of qualitative studies. This synthesis of qualitative evidence addresses barriers and facilitators to the implementation of lay health worker (LHW) programmes.
Capacity building is a widely used phrase with a simple underyling concept: investment that leads to individuals or institutions becoming self-sufficient rather than dependent. The Cochrane Collaboration provides a brilliant vehicle for this development, conducting systematic reviews, promoting the use of research evidence, and enhancing research capacity through sustainable networks. Mutual support and strong networks are what makes Cochrane powerful, so let's use them even more in fulfilling what the development specialists like to call 'capacity building'.
Archie Cochrane's seminal work was titled "Effectiveness and efficiency: random reflections on health services", reflecting his belief that healthcare interventions should not only do more good than harm, but should also represent a good use of resources. Since its inception, The Cochrane Collaboration has produced over 5000 systematic reviews of the effectiveness of interventions, but these have largely ignored the challenge to provide information on efficiency. Is this a problem and, if so, what can be done about it?
In 1996, a team at the World Health Organization (WHO), with the help of many outside partners, embarked on a project to improve the accessibility of Cochrane Reviews among healthcare professionals in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), in the area of sexual and reproductive health. These efforts culminated in the launch of The WHO Reproductive Health Library (RHL), a free-of-charge electronic journal based on Cochrane Reviews and endorsed by The Cochrane Collaboration. This ground-breaking, long-standing collaborative partnership has benefitted not only the two organisations but also scores of healthcare professionals and their patients.
The Cochrane Collaboration has played a pioneering role over the past 20 years in the production and dissemination of high-quality, timely, synthesised research evidence across many areas of health care. However, in order to fully realise Cochrane's vision of a world where this can lead to better health for everyone, proactive strategic alliances are needed to ensure wider dissemination of Cochrane evidence in a manner that better meets the needs of users worldwide. Wikipedia, the web-based, multilingual, free-content encyclopaedia, is the sixth most visited site, and the most used medical resource, on the Internet, so the potential for Cochrane to reach previously unreached audiences by forging a strategic partnership with Wikipedia is enormous.