* * * * *
– The Global Forum for Research and Innovation for Health is the successor of the Global Forum for Health Research that merged with the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) in 2011. Forum 2015, as it will be abbreviated, will provide an opportunity for everyone interested in pursuing global health, equity and development to meet, exchange information, find partners, design solutions and set research and innovation agendas – nationally, regionally and globally.
– Investment in health and in research and innovation for health is a key element for sustainable economic development. Strengthening national health research and innovation capacity and optimizing research and innovation systems will increasingly enable low and middle income countries, institutions and business to participate in setting a shared global health agenda and solve shared problems.
* * * * *
Towards a new Forum
Secretary Mario G. Montejo of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and COHRED signed the agreement for the Philippines to host the Global Forum for Research and Innovation for Health 2015 in Manila last 14 March 2014 during the 32nd Anniversary of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development at Makati City, Philippines. 
The 2015 edition of the Global Forum will see the completion of a major transformation: from a platform focused on redistributing research resources from ‘North’ to ‘South’ as in ‘closing the 10/90 Gap’ towards a new Forum, that will emphasize the new global reality of the greatly increased capacity, funding and potential of low- and middle-income countries themselves in terms of research and innovation for health. Instead of being an advocacy platform for high-income countries to spend more on the problems of low- and middle-income countries, the new Forum will speak to the growing ability and assertiveness of low- and middle-income countries to be active partners in setting local, regional and global research agendas for health – and to their rapidly increasing ability and willingness to contribute to solving problems of both global and local relevance and reap the scientific, health and developmental benefits from doing so. An example of this is that the new Forum is no longer ‘donor-funded’ – but host countries contribute up to a third or more of all costs.
The new Forum will remain a place like no others, where governments, industry, non-profits, health sector organisations, science bodies, researchers and development experts – and you – can think, talk, meet, focus, design on improving health, equity and development, sustainably, through research and innovation.
“The strong participation of institutions from the North will signal a shift in the North-South relationship from donor to partner, made possible by the growing and maturing R&D capacity in the region and in the Philippines, blurring the borders that previously existed between North and South research institutions,” said Gerald Keusch, at the Schools of Medicine and Public Health, Boston University (MA, USA), and member of the COHRED Board. “I anticipate an exceptional meeting and many new scientific relationships developing as a result, both North-South and South-South, in support of their common goals to improve health, equity and development in low and middle income countries through the creation of strong national research and innovation systems.”
“The Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) is a community-in-progress. In the first decade of its existence, the different stakeholders across all sectors of Philippine society interacted and worked together to develop a unified research agenda, implemented this agenda based on available resources, and built human capacity and support systems,” said Jaime C. Montoya, Executive Director of the Philippine Council on Health Research and Development. “Our country is investing more and more in health research. With increasing investments in health research, the need for a bigger pool of health research human resource, research facilities and support systems cannot be overemphasized. Research resources are important, not only for projects, but for people who will do the research, and translate the findings into health benefits that people can enjoy and confidently attribute to research.”
A strong regional flavor
“The agreement to host the Global Forum in Manila represents a landmark for the two partners, to look forward to expanding and developing health for research and innovation capacity in the Asian region in general, and in the Philippines in particular. The opportunities for regional networking this meeting will present are exceptional,” said Keusch.
Indeed, one of the declared objectives of Forum 2015 is to encourage diplomacy to create a regional approach to research and innovation for health as key factors of development. In 2015, Manila will also be host to the APEC meeting, and this year will be historic for the 10 ASEAN countries and beyond, as another major step on the road to ASEAN harmonization will be signed. The ASEAN region has witnessed one of the strongest economic growth rates in the world in recent times, but this has not yet translated in a comparable development of science, technology and innovations for health. The explicit purpose, therefore, is to tap into the strong regional network of universities, research institutions, business, NGOs, media and more to let health research and innovation start serving everyone, both in the Philippines and other countries in the region.
“Global Forum 2015 in Manila will bring in a new level of recognition for Manila and the Philippines as an event venue for health research. In the process, the Philippine health research and innovation community will benefit through the exchange of expertise and information between and among international partners,” said Montoya. “Global Forum 2015 is an umbrella of many events, converging in August 2015, and spilling beyond the conference dates. We hope to bring a distinctly Philippine flavor to this global event, introducing new ways of engaging peoples of the world to the theme: People at the center of research and innovation for health.”
Watch this space for more information – but only after you have booked the dates : 25-27 August 2015! See you there.