Gearing up for better decisions: Launching the guide to Health Economic Analysis and Research (GEAR) online resource

Imagine you’re a researcher in a low- and middle-income country (LMIC), and you find that you need to conduct an economic evaluation for your country. Now, where do you start? Or if you get halfway and are stuck, what do you do?

These are the problems that the Guide to health Economic Analysis and Research (GEAR) resource aims to answer. It is an online platform dedicated towards helping LMICs’ academics, researchers and economic evaluation practitioners worldwide conduct high quality, policy relevant healthcare research. GEAR compiles and resolves gaps arising from methodological issues in the conduct and the use of economic evaluations. The resource will explore the issues in the conduct and the use of these evidences, potential solutions to the issues and future research questions to address these issues but also will.

The site is based on tiDSI) supported. The paper, “Identifying Priority Methodological Issues in Economic Evaluation in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Finding the Holy Grail,” details the results of a literature review and questionnaire used to survey national and international experts, academics, public health officials, and relevant stakeholders on economic evaluation methodological issues. The respondents ranked the issues by order of priority or importance per their own experiences working in their country and/or abroad as well as propose some solutions that they consider relevant. These results were analyzed, triangulated with research questions proposed by the research team based on t he solutions nominated, and presented on the database. The prioritization of methodological problems and finding their solutions will lead to methodological research for improved tools in the conduct of economic evaluations. This database, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the iDSI grant and the Thailand Research Fund, complements this work and provides immediate solutions to researchers’ needs.

On March 8, 2017, in Pretoria, South Africa, the website was launched to a group of partners2
from the International Decision Support Initiative (iDSI) and LMIC partners from Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, South Africa, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand,      the UK, the US, Malawi, and Zambia. Prof. Anthony Culyer, a British Economist and Emeritus Professor of the University of York, opened the proceedings and likened it to the Professor Arrow’s founding of health economics. A short introductory and training workshop followed, showing that participants found the GEAR useful and helpful. Finally, Dr. Suwit Wibulpolprasert, former Chair of the National List of Essential Medicines in Thailand, closed the program by bidding the participants to bring the GEAR out to the world, to provide solutions to all researchers in need.