Evidence-informed decision-making is essential for improving the health and well-being of populations, and the COVID-19 pandemic has recently put a bright spotlight on the evidence–policy–society nexus. The newly published Evidence-informed Policy Network (EVIPNet) Call for Action charts the way forward for systematic and improved evidence-informed health policy-making towards more resilient, equitable and sustainable global health, both for future emergencies and recurring political and societal challenges.

The Call for Action was developed through an iterative process with global EVIPNet members and launched at the WHO Evidence-to-Policy Summit held from 15-17 November 2021. During the Summit, key stakeholders expressed strong support for the Call for Action, including representatives from the Cochrane Library, the Asian Development Bank, the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, and the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre), among others.

“We hope that using evidence in policy will be the norm rather than the exception”, said Jorge Barreto of EVIPNet Brazil, stressing that the Call for Action also marks a shift in culture among policy-makers and actors of the evidence ecosystem. Kerry Albright from UNICEF’s Office of Research Innocenti emphasized that “whole-of-society approaches and collaboration across sectors and the evidence ecosystem are needed to better tackle the future health emergencies”.

Stakeholders also noted the Call for Action’s alignment with the United Nations Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery and the Global Commission on Evidence to Address Societal Challenges. Senior leaders of several stakeholder organisations and partner institutions committed to forming a new partner coalition for sustainable evidence-policy-society-systems to implement the Call for Action.

The call explicitly invites governments, intergovernmental organizations such as United Nations system organizations, international financial institutions and other key stakeholders to join the WHO Evidence-informed Policy Network (EVIPNet) and commit to 16 concrete steps towards better evidence-informed decision-making. The four main sections focus on (1) institutionalizing structures and processes to support evidence-informed decision-making, (2) using high-quality norms, standards and tools promoting evidence-informed decision-making, (3) striving to ensure national and international capacity for the translation and use of evidence in decision-making, and (4) striving to ensure that evidence is accessible, timely and relevant for policy-making, especially in emergency situations.

The World Health Organization encourages governments, intergovernmental organizations and other key stakeholders to support EVIPNet to put in place implementation plans and dedicated resources for each of these four main recommendations.

 To support or inquire about the Call for Action and join EVIPNet, please contact evipnet@who.int or the network’s focal points in the respective WHO region: Joseph Okeibunor, EVIPNet Africa (okeibunorj@who.int); Ludovic Reveiz, EVIPNet America (reveizl@paho.org); Marge Reinap, EVIPNet Europe: (reinapm@who.int); Siswanto Siswanto, EVIPNet Southeast Asia (siswantos@who.int); and the Regional Network of Institutions for Evidence and Data to Policy in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region (emrgoedp@who.int).