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Lesson 3: Different experience of EU countries with evidence-based policy making are a challenge.

An important aspect of the project 'Future Panel on Public Health Genomics' was cooperation between PTA and non-PTA countries. One respect in which these countries may differ is in terms of the extent to which they have experience with evidence-based policy making. In Lithuania, for example, which is one of the non-PTA partners, links between policy making, on the one hand, and the scientific community or society, on the other hand, are weak. This presents a challenge in general but particularly with respect to long-term policy making on relatively advanced technologies, such as GBITs in health care. Part of that challenge is that some of the non-PTA countries struggle with a lack of basic research and clinical capacities at medical facilities. There may be a clear need in this respect for mutual learning on evidence-based policy making. But it also presents quite a challenge for attaining a clear focus of the policy debate when a participating country is struggling to cover basic needs that need to be met in the short term while the TA debate is focused on long-term visionary goals that involve high-tech such as GBITs. One of the main challenges is the capacity to translate the outcomes of cross-European TA at the national level, taking into account the differences in health-care systems in Europe, technological developments, and financial investments being made into research.

One way of meeting that challenge would be to discuss the potential introduction of GBITs in the context of the sustainability of a diversity of health-care systems in different countries. In other words, for a more relevant and significant impact, cross-European TA should have a clear aim of having a European, national and local integration of results. In the case of the Future Panel on Public Health Genomics, it would thus have been important for small studies to be produced, where the main conclusions of the activity would be analysed considering different national contexts. This would allow the possibility of integrating global and local perspectives, highlighting the main issues of concern, including issues of consensus as well as issues of dissidence. However, this was not defined as part of the activity, and therefore, there was no time and budget allocated to it.

Lesson 4: Concerning the role of TA experts, maintain a constructive balance between the role as secretariat and the capacity needed to function as TA specialists

One of the aims of the project was to create learning and mobilization on the potential of expert-based policy making facilitated by TA specialists. In this context, cross-European TA provides unique opportunities to support the development of a collaborative framework between countries with a long experience in doing TA and countries currently initiating TA activities. In practice, however, and mainly due to time and budget constraints, the TA experts involved in the PACITA Future Panel project had to function predominantly as the secretariat of the project. This left insufficient time to properly exchange experiences and expertise between the PTA and non-PTA partners when bringing together the rich and diverse results from the expert working groups in a systematic, constructive and policy-relevant way. One of the ways in which this could be countered would be to more directly involve experienced TA experts from PTA countries in the EWG activities that were led by the non-PTA countries. The fourth lesson learned from the Future Panel on Public Health Genomics, then, is that concerning the role of TA experts, a constructive balance must be maintained between the role as secretariat and the capacity needed to properly function as TA specialists. This lesson also underlines the crucial importance of TA capacity building in non-PTA countries.


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