Reflections from the Centre for Evaluation Retreat 2023

By Amy Jung, Student Liaison Officer for the Centre for Evaluation.
Presenters at the Centre for Evaluation Retreat 2023.

On Monday 5 June 2023, the Centre for Evaluation held its first in-person Retreat since 2019, bringing together networks of researchers to debate how to strengthen global health evaluation methods and make them fit for the future for academics, policy makers, practitioners and communities. The new management committee, under the third Co-Directors Mitzy Gafos and Lucy Platt, reinvigorated the evaluation community towards the Centre's aim to improve global health practice through evaluation. 

To start the day, keynote speaker Dr James Tibenderana, Chief Executive of the Malaria Consortium, presented on the need to close the efficacy-effectiveness gap in global health interventions through evaluation. Dr Tibendenrana highlighted the complex nature of translating efficacious interventions into effective practices due to contextual factors. He urged researchers to disentangle each component of design, delivery, and evaluation processes to enhance effectiveness of interventions, and wishes to see institutions collaborating to enable fluency in data use for stakeholders’ decision-making to close the gap in the efficacy-effectiveness continuum. 

Dr James Tibenderana

The keynote speech was followed by a presentation on evaluating co-production by Cicely Marston. The talk focused on prioritizing meaningful public and patient involvement (PPI) in global health practices and research. She emphasized the need for PPI from the conception of the intervention  to the evaluation stages for better results, while acknowledging current structural limitations to carry out and evaluate PPI in different stages. 

Cicely Marston

Being cognizant of issues raised by the two presentations, a panel discussion was held on the Malaria Evaluation Conundrum, presented by David Schellenberg and Jo Lines, accompanied by a diverse range of panelists including James Tibenderana, Catherine Pitt, Chris Bonell, Meenakshi Gautham and Katie Greenland. Evaluation was discussed in different fields and contexts including health economics, One Health, and WASH, to elucidate issues in adapting international recommendations into local contexts, and to understand the drivers of effectiveness in different settings. 

Following on, we heard speed talks on novel evaluation approaches and policy impact,  covering a broad range of methods and experiences. For the novel evaluation methods, topics ranged from evaluating pre-exposure prophylaxis adherence through a novel lateral flow assay, estimating mortality with participant flows to measuring social norms among young people from seven speakers. Policy impact speed talks were given by six speakers covering topics from evaluating a hygiene behavior project involving 37-countries, evaluating vaccine value, and many more thought-provoking research topics. 

Presenter at the CfE Retreat 2023

To finish the day, participants engaged in breakout groups on each of the Centre’s themes - quantifying impact, process evaluation, and evidence synthesis, to identify methodological challenges, priorities, and opportunities. The community reflected collectively to suggest ways for the Centre to facilitate reaching its goal to improve global health practice through evaluation. 

Overall, the day was full of engaging presentations, reflections, and discussions around evaluation in global health among the networks of researchers. We look forward to seeing new collaborative partnerships and outputs emerge from the event. 

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