From the WHA Resolution 43.19 on the role of research in health to the Bamako call for action in 2008 onwards, research has taken an increasingly higher profile. This has been accompanied by a dramatic rise in funding for global health and health research, a stronger interest in innovation and technological advancement, an emergence of numerous global heath research initiatives, increased attention paid to health systems research and evidence-informed policy and practice, and more awareness of the political, economic, environmental and social determinants of health (taken from PAHO Policy on Research for Health).
Key events that contributed to the development of the PAHO policy on research for health, submitted to the 144th Executive Committee on 22-26 June 2009 are listed below.
1st Latin American Conference on Research and Innovation for Health. Río de Janeiro, Brazil.
This conference sought practical answers to a common challenge in the Region: how to ensure that research deals with the countries’ health priorities and contributes to equitable development in Latin America. The conference focused on the creation, development and strengthening of National Health Research Systems and the use of regional cooperation to take advantage of existing resources and reducing asymmetries. Portal to conference site and Conference report (1.07 MB).
Intergovernmental group on Public Health Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights. Río de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Bamako Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health drew attention to the challenges that low and middle income countries face to develop a coherent approach to research priority setting and governance of health research. The delegations also appeared to agree on a paradigm shift that extends “health research” to embrace all sectors that contribute to “research for health”.
Bamako call to action is to strengthen research for health, development and equity.
The agenda was presented in Panama City to the international community by the Ministers of Health of the Americas, and reflected countries’ intent to work together and in solidarity to improve the health and development of the people of the Americas. Research is needed to respond to every Area of Action of the Agenda but it is particularly addressed under Harnessing Knowledge, Science, and Technology.
The Strategic Plan is PAHO’s answer to the call, of the countries of the Americas gathered in Panama to launch the Health Agenda for the Americas, for a collective action and an instrument to guide the collective action of national and international stakeholders who seek to improve the health of the peoples of this Region. Research governance and technical cooperation is highlighted in Strategic Objective 11: address research governance and capacity building in Member States and the Organization.
COHRED Latin American Consultation
Held to develop strategic ideas for the promotion of research for health by focusing on: a) understanding the situation of the different countries regarding health research systems; b) consideration of the role and value of networking, networks and south-to-south linkages in promoting research for health; and c) specific discussion on the potential roles of COHRED in the region in support of strengthening national health research systems.
Responding to increasing concern about persisting and widening inequities in health, the WHO established the Commission on Social Determinants of Health in 2005 to provide advice on how to reduce inequities. The Commission's final report was launched in August 2008 and included a call to increase public health research on the social determinants of health. See final report at: http://www.who.int/social_determinants/thecommission/finalreport/en/
The Forum called for a strengthening of national health research systems and for countries to commit to devote at least 2% of the public health budget to research, knowledge translation and clinical trials registration, transparency and accountability.
Responding to a call from the UN to extend the benefits of modern science to developing countries, RSIS reviewed the prospects that developments in science and technology offered for the future of the Information Society, especially in education, environment, health, and economic development. This event brought together scientists, policy makers and stakeholders from around the world to develop a vision for how information and communication technologies could be applied for the greater benefit of all.
Second Consultation on Macroeconomics and Health, "Increasing Investments in Health Outcomes for the Poor". Ministers of Health, Finance and Planning from forty low- and middle-income countries came together with development partners to discuss issues related to improving the effectiveness of health delivery systems and increasing domestic and external resources to health. Participants endorsed a Declaration pledging to establish and strengthen appropriate national and sub-regional mechanisms and to give attention within investment plans to human resource constraints.
Commission on Macroeconomics and Health: Noting the high burden of preventable diseases in poor countries and communities, this Commission called for strategic planning of investments across health and health-related sectors to improve the lives of poor people and promote development.
This Conference reaffirms that health is a basic human right. Health research is essential for improvements not only in health but also in social and economic development. Rapid globalization, new understanding of human biology, and the information technology revolution pose new challenges and opportunities. Social and health disparities, both within and between countries, are growing. Given these global trends, a focus on social and gender equity should be central to health research.
UNESCO: World Conference on Science. Hungary.
For six days, some 1,800 science stakeholders from 155 countries, including 90 ministers and deputy ministers in charge of science and/or research, debated on major science and related societal issues, with delegates agreeing on a number of principles and guidelines for shaping the course of science, research and science-society relations in the new millennium.
World Forum on Health Research and the 10/90 gap. The Global Forum for Health Research was established, founded on a broad statement of purpose and on the recognition of a wide range of relevant constituencies, its mission being “to help focus research efforts on the health problems of the poor”.
Commission on Health Research for Development: The commission focused on research in the belief that it has enormous—and in great part neglected—power to accomplish that goal. It also determined that research was essential for health and development.