American University of Beirut




    ​Capacity Building Workshops

    SPARK holds capacity building workshops periodically to strengthen the capacity of researchers in Lebanon and the Region in conducting systematic reviews of Health Policy and Systems Research.

    GESummit 2017: Workshop On Capacity Building in Conducting Systematic Reviews

    The GESI Secretariat coordinated a workshop that focused on building capacity in conducting systematic reviews from different angles:
    Sandy Oliver, from the Eppi-Centre, explained the different Capacity Building frameworks in conducting systematic reviews. 
    Lama Bou Karroum and Racha Fadlallah, from the Centre on  Systematic Reviews on Health Policy & Systems Research (SPARK), showcased SPARK's experience in building this type of capacity from the health policy and systems research angle. 
    Biljana Macura, from MISTRA-EviEM, Stockholm Environmental Institute, elaborated on the experience in the Environmental field. 
    Ruth Stewart, from the African Evidence Network (AEN), presented the findings of the survey on the existing capacity in conducting systematic reviews of the AEN members. 
    Ekwaro Obuku, from the African Center for Systematic Reviews and Knowledge Translation at Makerere University in Kampala, shared the centre's experience of doing the work in Uganda. 
    After the short presentations, participants from the GESI Network and outside the GESI Network shared their own experience and brainstormed ideas they could use back in their centres.

    Systematic Review Methods Workshop, Beirut June 2017 (In Collaboration with EviEM)

    SPARK Center collaborated with the Global Evidence Synthesis Initiative (GESI) to hold the above-mentioned 2-day workshop in Beirut on June 1-2 2017. The workshop was facilitated by Dr Neal Haddaway works at the Stockholm Environment Institute in Stockholm as a Project Manager and Research Coordinator for the EviEM project. The workshop was attended by 18 individuals, including policymakers, researchers and healthcare providers from Lebanon 

    Effective Communication of Health Evidence for Impactful Policy Decisions and Action (In Collaboration with K2P Center)

    SPARK Center collaborated with the Knowledge to Policy (K2P) Center to hold the abovementioned 3-day workshop in Beirut on March 22-24, 2017. The workshop aimed to raise awareness about the fundamentals of evidence-informed policymaking, and the range of knowledge translation (KT) products and approaches available to promote the use of evidence in policymaking. The workshop also built capacity in accessing and searching for relevant research evidence, preparing policy briefs and convening policy dialogues. Seventeen individuals from the multidisciplinary background and spanning three different countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region (15 from Lebanon, 1 from Syria, and 1 from Iraq) attended the workshop. These included policymakers, healthcare providers, primary health care managers, representatives from non-governmental organizations, and health researchers. ​

    WHO EMRO SUPPORT Summaries Workshop: Evidence for Policy-Makers

    The WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, in collaboration with the Norwegian Knowledge Center for the Health Services, conducted a workshop on developing SUPPORT summaries at the Regional Office, Cairo, Egypt, from 15 to 18 November, 2015.

    Four members of SPARK (Ms. Lama Bou-Karroum, Dr. Andrea Darzi, Ms. Racha Fadlallah and Ms. Nour Hemadi) were invited to participate in the workshop. The SPARK team developed the two following support summaries

    • What are the effects of physician-nurse substitution in primary care on clinical parameters?
    • Is nutrition training of health workers effective in improving caregivers’ feeding practices for children aged 6 months to 2 years?

    Participation in International Conferences

    SPARK is regularly represented in Local, Regional and International Conferences through the participation of our team members.

    Our most recent participations are shown below:

    Expert Consultation on Fostering Institutional and Structural Capacity for Evidence Based Health Policy Making 

    Venue: WHO- EMRO, Cairo, Egypt 

    Date: 29-30 November, 2017 

    SPARK co-director presented on - The SPARK & AUB GRADE Center Experience in terms of the role of academia in supporting evidence-based policy Making - The Use of Evidence in Public Health Decision-Making: EVIPnet, GESI, K2P & Lebanon Case 

    Fifth Evidence-informed Policy Network (EVIPNet) Europe Multi-country Meeting on Using Research Evidence for PolicyMaking 

    Venue: Bratislava, Slovakia 

    Date: June 14-16, 2017 

    SPARK team members have been invited to lead a sessio n on rapid response s ystems. The workshop provided an overview of the role of rapid response systems in promoting evidence-informed policymaking, the different types of rapid response systems, and the steps involved in preparing rapid response products. We also reflected on our experience with launching a rapid response system in Lebanon.  

    4th Global Symposium on Health Systems Research

    Venue: Vancouver Canada

    Date: 14-18 November 2016

    Abstracts accepted for Oral Presentation:

    Fadi El-Jardali (2016). An innovative knowledge framework to promote evidence-informed health policies and practices: Engaging policymakers and stakeholders from priority-setting to knowledge translation and impact assessment
    Racha Fadlallah (2016). An impact-oriented approach to strengthen the pharmaceutical sector in Lebanon: from systematic review production to knowledge translation and advocacy
    Abstracts accepted for Poster presentation:

    • Racha Fadlallah (2016). Evidence-informed guidance to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage through the implementation of health benefits package at the level of primary health care 
    • Lama Bou Karroum (2016). Using Mass Media to impact Health Policymaking: A Systematic Review 
    Abstracts for the organized session:

    • Andrea Tricco, Sharon Straus, Rhona Mijumbi, Karen Daniels, Willem Odendaal, Racha Fadlallah, Lama Bou Karroum, Sandy Oliver, Etienne V. Langlois, Natalie Leon (2016). Engaging policymakers and conducting rapid reviews on health policy and systems research
    • Karen Daniels, Lama Bou Karroum, Henry UroChukwu, Sandy Oliver, Beibei Yuan (2016). Policy responsive systematic reviews for maintaining the resilience of health systems: a process reflection on co-creating systematic reviews through policymaker engagement  
    24th Cochrane Colloquium

    Venue: Seoul, South Korea

    Date: October 23-27 2016
    Abstracts accepted for Oral presentation:

    • Elie Akl (2016). Developing a rapid response service system within systematic review centers to address policymakers priority needs from policymakers 

    • Racha Fadlallah (2016). Applying integrated knowledge translation framework for impactful systematic reviews: A case study about promoting rational drug use in Lebanon 
    Abstracts accepted for Workshop session:

    • Elie Akl and Racha Fadlallah. Knowledge translation strategies and tools for impactful systematic reviews  
    Prince Mahidol Award Conference 2016 “Priority Setting for Universal Health Coverage"

    Venue: Bangkok, Thailand

    Date: January 2016 

    • Poster presentation: A systematic review on the implementation of health benefits packages in low and middle-income countries: from priority setting to knowledge translation​

    ​The 23rd Cochrane Colloquium​

    • Venue: Vienna, Austria
    • Date: 3  7 Oct. 2015
    Abstract accepted for Oral presentation:
    A priority setting tool for prioritizing review questions for systematic reviews in health policy and systems research: development and validation (presented by Dr. Elie Akl).
    An approach for systematic review teams to engage po licymakers and stakeholders: from question selection to knowledge translation (presented by Ms. Racha Fadlallah).

    Evidence Gaps in Health Policy and Systems Research in 15 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region: a mapping exercise (presented by Ms. Lama BouKarroum).

    The Lancet Palestinian Health Alliance Conference

    • Venue: Beirut, Lebanon
    • Date: 21  22 Mar. 2015
    Abstract accepted for oral presentation:

    Effectiveness of Mechanisms and Models of Coordination of Health Services Provision in Humanitarian Crisis: A Systematic Review (presented by Ms. LamaBou Karroum).

    For the agenda, please (Click here)

    The 3rd Global Symposium

    • Venue: Cape Town, South Africa
    • Date: 28 Sept.  3 Oct. 2014
    Abtract accepted for Organized session:

    Approaches for Prioritizing Questions for Systematic Reviews in Health Policy and Systems Research (presented by Dr. Fadi ElJardali).

    Abstracts accepted for Poster presentation:

    Towards EvidenceBased Health Reporting for PeopleCentered Health Systems (presented by Dr. Fadi ElJardali).

    Systematic Reviews addressing Identified Policy Priorities in Eastern Mediterranean Countries: A Situational Analysis (presented by Dr. Fadi ElJardali).

    The 22nd Cochrane Colloquium

    • Venue: Hyderabad, India
    • Date: 21  26 Sept. 2014
    Abstract accepted for Oral presentation:

    Systematic Reviews addressing Identified Policy Priorities in Eastern Mediterranean Countries: A Situational Analysis (presented by Ms. Racha Fadlallah).

    Abstract accepted for Workshop session:

    Approaches for Prioritizing Questions for Systematic Reviews in Health Policy and Systems Research (presented by Dr. Elie Akl and Ms. Racha Fadlallah).

    Priority Setting Exercises​

    SPARK conducts priority setting exercises to ensure the production of systematic reviews that respond to policymakers and stakeholders needs.

    Capacity Building Workshops

    Priority Setting Meeting

    ​To initiate the work of the Center, SPARK held its first priority setting meeting on January 7, 2014. Policymakers and stakeholders from multidisciplinary backgrounds were engaged in shaping relevant review questions on two priority topics "counterfeit drugs" and "health of war refugees". The two topics were chosen based on the gaps identified from a situational analysis exercise conducted by SPARK and consultations with key policymakers/stakeholders.
    The priority setting meeting was part of a 3-day workshop held by SPARK (see workshop 1 for full details). Fourteen policymakers and stakeholders from multidisciplinary backgrounds participated in the meeting. They included representatives from the Ministry of Health, Order of Pharmacist, Representative of physicians, World Health Organization country office, United Nations Development Program, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Relief and Works Agency, International Organization for Migration, and UK Department for International Development. The participants split into 3 groups to discuss the two selected priority topics. These roundtable discussions contributed to reframing the problem statements and shaping relevant review questions pertaining to each of the two priority topics. In the afternoon sessions, participants revised the conceptual frameworks relevant to the selected topics, with subsequent refinement of the review questions.

    Potential review questions for each topic​​

    1-Health of the war refugee:​

    • What are the most effective mechanisms to enhance coordination among organizations working with refugees?
    • What are the impacts of refugees on the host community?

    2-Drug counterfeiting:

    • What anti-counterfeiting strategies have been used to regulate drug counterfeiting and how do they compare in terms of effectiveness, feasibility and acceptability?
    • What are the effects of inspection and quality control systems on drug counterfeiting?

    Output of the meeting

    1. The meetin​g sensitized policymakers and stakeholders to systematic reviews and the role of evidence in health system decision-making.
    2. The mee​​​ting initiated the actual work of the Center on the two priority topics, "drug counterfeiting" and "health of war refugees" by:
      • Forming a review team fo​r each topic
      • Reframing the problem statements and review questions

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