Claiming global resources for health research
A recently organized international conference on epidemiologic research, organized by Nepal Public Health Foundation in collaboration with Nepal Health Research Council, carried a theme of Building Research Capacity for Policy and Action. Research capacity is appreciated as a necessity for generating evidences that must serve as basis for rational policies and actions for implementing those policies. In view of this, Nepal is constantly dedicating its efforts to harness national capacity in health research.
However, research capacity building process in the country is grossly focused on training activities. These efforts are reflected in strategies of Nepal Health Research Council, Government Authority to monitor health research in the country, which trained thousands of researchers over a decade. Universities reformed the curriculum of health professions education with inclusions of research components. There are attempts to develop postgraduate courses in research. Apparently, training is important, but we should not ignore the fact that training alone does not produce researchers. Research works produce researchers and only engagement in research works builds research capacity of any country –whether it is rich or poor. Therefore, without research opportunities for engagement in research works, building research capacity will be a mere wishful dream. Unfortunately, there is no fair distribution of research opportunities worldwide.
According to a conservative estimation, in the beginning of this century globally more than 20 billion US dolor was used in health research every year. However, only 10% of this global resource was spent in research of health problems of 90% of world population. Reversely, 90% of the global resource was invested in research of health problems of 10% of world population. This disparity - known as 10/90 gap - was a major agenda of World Health Organization during that period and addressed through Global Forum for Health Research.
WHO organized several international conferences of Global Forum for Health Research from 2001 to 2007 in Tanzania, Switzerland, China, Egypt, India and in Mali and strongly advocated for fair distribution of global resources for health research. Regrettably, Global Forum for Health Research is now collapsed and the issue of 10/90 gap is pushed in dark corner. Global discrepancies in health research continue, It is a prime time for WHO to break the silence and to re-establish the agenda of 10/90 gap in upcoming 71st World Health Assembly to express its commitment to build research capacity of all member states. It is also a responsibility of civil society activists and national delegates attending 71st World Health Assembly to make this voice heard in the Assembly. At the national level, in addition to training, it is undeniably necessary for the institutions and organization like Nepal Health Research Council, Nepal Public Health Foundation and other to re-claim global resources for health research and justful distribution of research opportunities to meet our aim of building health research capacity in the country.
(Sharad Onta - affiliated to Nepal Public Health Foundation and People’s Health Movement Nepal)