Communities influencing health research
How can communities improve national health research?
Communities are most often involved in health research as ‘data points’ and subjects of research. Their value as groups who can help define, deliver and measure the effectiveness of health research is not often recognized.
A group of civil society organizations produced a Call to Action (see: CallForCSOEngagementFinal.pdf ) at the Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health. The forum was held in Bamako, Mali in November 2008. The Call for Action at the Bamako meeting helped open a dialogue with ministers and other health research leaders. The dialogue centred on advantages the civil society organizations can accrue to making research more relevant to people’s needs and needs for population health in their countries.
A special document was prepared as input to Bamako Ministerial Forum: A Call for Civil Society Engagement to Achieve Research for Health: Toward a Post-Bamako Action Plan.
Medicines development by Africa
There is little or no comprehensive information on the production of medicines in Africa and by African players.
The Yaoundé Process investigated this and presented findings at the Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health that was held in Bamako, Mali in 2008.
In Mali, an open consultation in Bamako to allow countries to voice their needs was held. The open consultation was in preparation for an international meeting to be hosted by Cameroon later this year. Results of the Yaoundé Baseline Study of medicines production across Africa were presented at the open discussion.
An international study showing scenarios and approaches that African countries can use to create their medicines development strategies was also presented at the open discussion. For more information about the Yaoundé Process visit: www.yaoundeprocess.org
Research for Africa’s health systems
Results of a consultation with more than 150 high-level African scientists and policy-makers and northern institutions were presented at the November 2008 Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health.
The consultation centred on the relevance and impact of research on the strengthening of health systems in Africa. The study and a discussion at the Bamako meeting were a basis for a paper, to be published after the 2008 Forum.
Debate on ‘Aid Effectiveness’
Alignment and Harmonization in research for health:
AHA Study: a special publication series on alignment and harmonization of health research can be found at: AHA
Responsible vertical programming
Can international health research programmes strengthen national health research systems?
In wealthy nations, a system for funding and managing research that responds to the health needs of their population is the basis of national health policies and services.
The picture of health research in the low income countries is quite different. Yet there are several global health research programmes working in the world’s poorest countries with a potential to add another contribution to national development. These programmes can support growth of these countries’ health research systems.
A study by COHRED explores the effect of global disease-specific health research programmes on health research in low and middle income countries. Results indicate that ‘vertical’ programmes can become catalysts for improving health research capacity in poor countries over the long term.
However, for this to happen, the research programmes have to agree to invest in research system development.
The study shows that national health research priorities are largely set, and development donors and programmes provide funding. However, this funding focuses on solving specific problems – such as TB, malaria, HIV/AIDS, child health, vaccine development and reproductive health. Some examples of the current situation summarized from the study:
- In Cameroon, 25% of all health research in 1999 was contracted directly to individual researchers. Government and institutional systems of governance were bypassed.
- In Zambia, only 12 health research projects were registered with the national Council of Science and Technology in 2006. This is a fraction of the existing research in the country.
- South Africa does not have a national register of externally funded research. Where information is available, it often covers clinical trials only.
- At the time of the study, Uganda was not providing national project funding for health research, while income from externally funded health research projects totalled some $24 million.