Press Release – Beijing consultation

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  • New COHRED study aims to improve evidence base for better decisions on donor support of health research – better aligned with national priorities.
  • Special COHRED/Sida/SAREC¹ consultation brings health research leaders and donors together to review results.

How are funds are directed and priorities chosen for donor health research support to developing countries? These are the questions that a new study by COHRED² aims to clarify; and were discussed in a special consultation between a group developing country health research leaders and donors supporting health and health research.

Called the ‘AHA Study’ – for donor Alignment and HArmonization³ – it looks at the health research funding situation in five African countries by eight development donors. The study presents two perspectives: the extent to which donors’ health research activities are harmonised with each other to be most effective for developing countries; and secondly how closely donors’ programmes are aligned with the health and health research priorities defined by each country where they support health research

First attempt to quantify alignment and harmonisation of health research in countries

AHA is the first attempt to quantify the alignment and harmonisation aspects of health research in a number of countries. It is also a first step toward more in-depth analysis that can be a basis for donors and their partner countries to have shared health research agendas.

“The study intends to determine the extent of harmonisation, or the lack of it. We present ideas to improve the sustainability of research investments which will assist country policy makers in deciding what is best for strengthening health research and their national health research systems. The ultimate aim is improved population health, through health research,” says Carel IJsselmuiden, Director of COHRED.

Country surveys

AHA is finalising country surveys on health research governance, institutions, investments and activities – in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia. They include information on the health research funding activities of the development cooperation agencies of Canada, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

There has been discussion in global health and development cooperation circles of how health research investments can be better focused on the needs of recipient countries, but little data is available on the strategies and impact in the health research domain.

The COHRED study team says that AHA is the first step in a process which will be extended to help improve the work of all those involved in health research for development. This effort, and others planned by COHRED, gives a clearer picture of what is happening in health research investments in developing countries and the effect that it has on them.

Beginning of an evidence base on donor alignment and harmonization

Carel IJsselmuiden explains: “The adverse effects that ill-coordinated donor health research efforts can have on countries, and the issue that many programmes do not acknowledge countries’ priorities, is known and much discussed in the international development community. But this information is largely anecdotal. We hope that AHA will be the beginning of an evidence base on donor alignment and harmonization for health research. The goal is to encourage countries and donors to produce and exchange information regularly that helps build better quality investments in health research, focused on the real needs of countries.”

This special COHRED consultation on health research funding alignment and harmonization brought together senior representatives of donor agencies and health research in countries to discuss this topic for the first time:

  • Ministry of Health and University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso;
  • Ministry of Health and University of Youndé, in Cameroon;
  • National Institute of Health and University Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique;
  • Ministry of Health, National Council of Science and Technology and Medical School in Uganda;
  • Ministry of Health in Zambia; Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
  • International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research;
  • Irish Aid, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and Irish Forum for Global Health, University of Galway;
  • Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMW);
  • Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation – NORAD;
  • Department for Research Cooperation – SAREC, of Sweden;
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, SDC; and the UK Department of Health.

The AHA study is supported by SIDA Sarec – the Department for Research Cooperation of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency

For more information on the AHA study, contact Sylvia de Haan at COHRED

¹Department for Research Cooperation (SAREC) of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
²the Council on Health Research for Development
³Donor Alignment and Harmonization in Relation to National Health Research Priorities, COHRED overview study and country reports – Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia.

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