Policymakers need a better understanding of science

Policymakers need to be aware of the science relevant to the decisions they make.  A report based on interviews and parliamentary briefings in Uganda found that:

  • There is widespread enthusiasm for science and technology so that debates might be evidence based.
  • Parliamentary library staff have difficulty in accessing both in-country and external sources.
  • Some parliamentarians have difficulty in distinguishing reliable from unreliable information
  • In parliamentary debates some totally incorrect statements go unchallenged
  • Some parliamentary briefing papers are well written; others are less impressive – subject to personal bias, poorly referenced and ignoring authoritative sources such as WHO.
  • Parliamentarians need the information to put evidence based science into policies; and to be able to critically appraise the evidence.

One of the main recommendations of the report is to provide Members of Parliament with training in information literacy. “Good policies can only be based on good science”

David Dickson. SciDev Net. Sub Saharan Africa

Full report and executive summary

Improving communication between health librarians, parliamentary library staff and politicians, and the media are surely part of health librarians’ responsibilities to their community – any comments?

Jean Shaw, Phi

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About jgreigshaw

I work with Partnerships in Health Information which promotes partnership between libraries in Africa and the UK with an emphasis in African leadership. I have visited Kenya, Mali, Uganda and Zambia though Phi has contacts in many more African countries.
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