Partner African science academies have been developing and testing different models to inform government policy making. These have included both consensus-based activities—in-depth policy studies by a formally constituted committee to explore important issues and to offer formal, evidence-based guidance to national decision makers—and convening activities, gatherings of representatives with diverse perspectives to discuss and illuminate issues using an evidence-based approach. Accomplishments of partner academies in building these models are described below.
Consensus-based policy studies are in-depth analyses conducted by a committee of experts on subjects selected by an academy in consultation with the gov¬ernment. Careful procedures are used for selecting members to the committee: assuring that the committee’s experience and expertise are appropriate to the task and screening for financial or other interests that might interfere with members’ ability to serve objectively. The appointed committee of experts—balanced and free from conflicts of interest—reviews research, works together to achieve consensus, and, where appropriate, offers policy guidance. Partner science academies in Africa have been working to adapt the model of the consensus study to the local context.
Forums, Symposia, and Workshops
Science academies have the ability to convene diverse perspectives—representatives of industry, academia, non-profit organizations, donors, and government—to illuminate emerging issues of interest to a nation. Symposia, workshops, and series of workshops—forums or roundtables—convened in the name of a standing committee are among the convening models under experimentation by African science academy partners through the ASADI partnership. Convening events have brought a diverse array of interests to the table for discussions on a broad range of nationally significant topics including nutrition, poverty, and health. Proceedings or summaries from these events have been produced.
Several academies have established standing committees, or forums, to explore topics related to a particular theme on a regular basis. At the Nigerian Academy of Science, a standing Forum on Evidence-Based Health Policy Making has been established that has convened several workshops on a variety of topics. In South Africa, a Forum on Poverty Alleviation has been established and has convened a workshop on science- based improvements to rural/subsistence agriculture, and in Uganda, a Forum on Health and Nutrition has been established and has convened a workshop on issues surrounding malaria control and prevention.