Soorej Jose Puthoopparambil, Head of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Migration and Health Data and Evidence, is passionate about integrating scientific evidence into decision-making processes and practices. Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt.2023-04-24
Important to bring scientific evidence to policymakers and practitioners
Uppsala University hosts a WHO Collaborating Centre on Migration and Health Data and Evidence, which works to integrate scientific evidence into decision-making processes and practices.
The WHO Collaborating Centre on Migration and Health Data and Evidence has been operating at the Department of Women's and Children's Health for around a year. It is the first in Sweden and the third globally in the same category.
The Centre’s researchers will provide support and advice to the WHO and its member countries on issues relating to migration and health. In July 2022, the WHO released its first global report on migrant health: World report on the health of refugees and migrants. Work on the report was led by the University's WHO Collaborating Centre in collaboration with the WHO.
The Centre's work is a means of reaching policymakers and practitioners with evidence-based knowledge and helping influence both policy and practical initiatives.
“The global report we produced serves as a key reference for those working on migration and health. The report is used as a textbook and has opened doors for us to be invited to take part in more collaborations," notes Soorej Puthoopparambil, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Women's and Children's Health and Head of the Centre together with Inger Sundström Poromaa, Head of the Department of Women's and Children's Health.
Puthoopparambil describes his desire to both conduct research and play an active role in informing policy and practice. In other words, a form of collaboration.
“The extent to which you want and have time to support decision-making is a matter of preference. But I have a keen interest in informing and supporting decision-making with evidence.
“I feel that my work at the Centre is a good use of my time. Important knowledge that can have an impact is produced from the research. It is a way of disseminating scientific evidence, given that research articles may not be widely read by policymakers and practitioners. I spend a lot of time listening, trying to understand and offering solutions. You could say that I serve as a kind of mediator who understands both the research and policy-making processes,” muses Puthoopparambil.
Positive for education
The Centre's activities also have positive side effects on education. Materials from the Centre are used in teaching, students contribute to its activities through internships, and the activities attract new students.
At times there are some advantages in research to the link with WHO Centres, as they are seen as a seal of quality.
Must be creative
Efforts to disseminate knowledge to policymakers based on scientific evidence do not follow the usual routes of research and education.
“You have to be creative and find solutions as you go along. It is very rewarding and enriching for me, but also demanding. I have had good partners and a lot of support from both the department and the University. Being entrusted to launch and lead a new and important initiative such as the WHO Centre is incredibly important and an honour.”
Seeking collaborations within the University
The Centre's collaborations involve activities in the humanities and social sciences, but Puthoopparambil would like to see the Centre develop more collaborations across the University and the country.
“The Centre is intended to be a platform for migration and health for the entire University. Examples include projects in technology, banking ID, ethics or other areas. Migration and health are not simply a question of healthcare and regulations, they cover a range of other areas," adds Puthoopparambil.
Facts on WHO Collaborating Centre on Migration and Health Data and Evidence
- The WHO Collaborating Centre is designated by the WHO Director-General to support its work.
- The WHO Collaborating Centre designation lasts for four years – in this case until September 2025 – but can be extended.
- The WHO Collaborating Centre on Migration and Health Data and Evidence is funded by the Vice-Chancellor, the Department of Women's and Children's Health and the Department of Theology, among others.
- Web pages on the ‘WHO Collaborating Centre on Migration and Health Data and Evidence’
- Sweden's first WHO Centre for Migration and Health, news item on the University's website, 2 December 2021
- World report on the health of refugees and migrants.
- WHO video about the Centre (YouTube): Capacity-building and human resources for refugee and migrant health
- Funding for research collaborations with external parties, news item on the Staff Portal, 8 June 2021