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9 - Promoting Evidence-Based Public Health Recommendations to Support Reductions in Infant and Child Mortality: The Role of National Scientific Advisory Groups

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 July 2018

Jeanine Young
Affiliation:
School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Paramedicine, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
Jodhie R. Duncan
Affiliation:
University of Melbourne
Roger W. Byard
Affiliation:
University of Adelaide
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Summary

Introduction

Public health programs are tasked with using the best available evidence to make informed decisions in supporting campaigns, guidelines, policies, and advice in order to improve the health and wellbeing of countries, communities, families, and individuals (1). Public health programs, which focus on reducing preventable infant and child mortality, target modifiable factors that parents, caregivers, and health professionals can influence the most in order to promote the optimal conditions in which infants and children may survive, grow, and thrive (2, 3). The “Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)” and subsequent “Safe Sleeping” campaigns (4, 5) are key components of successful public health programs, which promote evidence-based risk reduction strategies to reduce infant mortality (2, 6). Although national campaigns and programs may vary in style, number, and content of key messages, countries that have adopted similar risk reduction programs, and in particular the advice to sleep babies on their backs, have experienced marked reductions in sudden and unexpected infant deaths (2, 4, 5, 7).

Essentials of an Evidence-Based Public Health Approach

Evidence underpinning public health recommendations comes from a systematic study of completed, peer reviewed, and publicly available research (1, 8). To ensure that public health practice is underpinned by evidence, it has been proposed that five key activities need to be undertaken (1). These activities include [1] evaluating needs for new or improved programs or practices; [2] identifying the best available evidence on programs and practices that potentially meet the needs; [3] collecting the best available information on appropriate programs and practices; [4] selecting programs that fit together with community and population needs and values; and [5] evaluating the impact on health and wellbeing of putting selected programs into practice (1, 9). In addition, high-quality programs are those which deliver public health initiatives that have been demonstrated to be population-centered, equitable, proactive, health promoting, risk-reducing, vigilant, transparent, effective, and efficient (9, 10).

The Role of Scientific Advisory Groups

Governments and public health organizations have recognized the importance of expert advice in facilitating efficient access to the best available evidence to support sound public health practice and policy making (11, 12). Access to, and knowledge of, good clinical practice also requires an understanding of the needs of stakeholder groups and the systems they work within, in order to translate evidence into practice.

Type
Chapter
Information
SIDS Sudden Infant and Early Childhood Death
The past, the present and the future
, pp. 155 - 168
Publisher: The University of Adelaide Press
Print publication year: 2018

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