Background: The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are monitored using national-level statistics, which have shown substantial improvements in many countries. These statistics may be misleading, however, and may divert resources from disadvantaged populations within the same countries that are showing progress. The purpose of this article is to set out the relevance and design of the "Evidence for Policy and Implementation project (EPI-4)". EPI-4 aims to contribute to the reduction of inequities in the achievement of health-related MDGs in China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam through the promotion of research-informed policymaking.
Methods: Using a framework provided by the Commission on the Social Determinants of Health (CSDH), we compare national-level MDG targets and results, as well as their social and structural determinants, in China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Results: To understand country-level MDG achievements it is useful to analyze their social and structural determinants. This analysis is not sufficient, however, to understand within-country inequities. Specialized analyses are required for this purpose, as is discussion and debate of the results with policymakers, which is the aim of the EPI-4 project.
Conclusion: Reducing health inequities requires sophisticated analyses to identify disadvantaged populations within and between countries, and to determine evidence-based solutions that will make a difference. The EPI-4 project hopes to contribute to this goal.
Keywords: Asia; Millennium Development Goals; equity; evidence to policy; network; social determinants of health.