Communication matters in research.This was the overwhelming message from the session on Research to Practice: the role of information and communication that Exchange organised at the Global Forum for Health Research, Mumbai on 14 September 2005.
Policy makers, researchers and communities need to work together to tackle ill-health and inequity. But gaps in communication are preventing a coordinated approach. Most problematic are the gulfs between the people who commission research, the people who conduct research, and the people who the research is meant to benefit.
But good communication strengthens research. This means that it has an impact where it is needed most - in developing countries.
This is why Exchange ran a parallel session at the Forum which brought together key practitioners to share examples of effective research communication.
The showcase of work from ODI, IDRC, AfriAfya and others was well received by the audience members who engaged in a lively interchange about their own experiences.
Research should be aimed at making a difference to poor people - for example the people who live in the poorest slums in India that can be found 10 minutes away from the Forum's venue - concluded Nand Wadwhai who was chairing the session.
However there really is no blueprint when it comes to communicating research. This is one of the key lessons from Sharmila Mhatre's community level work with CIET and IDRC.
Communication strategies ranged from training for policy makers at the start of a research project, to making data available through a free user-friendly website, to the use of radio and video.
Sharmila said: "You need to understand the timing of when to be a catalyst. If you have trust and relationships and your agenda is to give technical assistance, it will work."