Systematic reviews – What have they ever done for Global Health?

Prof Paul Garner, who is from the Centre for Evidence Synthesis for Global Health at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, was speaking in a guest lecture entitled ‘What have systematic reviews done for global health?’ in the Global Health Seminar Series at the Medical and Health Sciences Faculty of Stellenbosch University.

He highlighted that Cochrane has played a major role in mainstreaming systematic reviews. The main strengths are its methodology, the collaborative approach, the way reviews are published electronically, and made accessible, and the organisation that supports the production of reviews. “Undertaking a Cochrane systematic review also provides good science training,” continued Garner. “Building capacity in good science, epidemiology and statistics.”

“Cochrane reviews have helped to uncover poor scientific practices and to identify research priorities,” He provided specific examples of where Cochrane reviews had overturned previously accepted research findings and challenged the status quo. He also pointed out that in the United Kingdom most research funders now insist that any research applications have to be accompanied by a recent systematic review to show the gaps the research will fill with the aim of reducing wasteful research.



Prof Garner is responsible for the Centre for Evidence Synthesis for Global Health  at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM).

He was part of the original team that set up the Cochrane Collaboration, and currently co-ordinates the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group

They lead a network of over 300 people synthesizing research to inform global, regional and national policies in tropical infections and conditions relevant to low- and middle-income countries, and work closely with the World Health Organization and several countries in guideline development.