Category Archives: Forum 2015

A healthy society is a disaster resilient society

Disasters are usually measured by the number of deaths, injuries and damage to property that they cause. But, do these measures truly express the magnitude of damage to people’s health and quality of life?

In 2011, the earthquake that struck the Pacific coast of Tōhoku, with a magnitude of 9.0 (Mw), was the largest to ever hit Japan and the fourth most powerful in recorded history. Strong national building codes protected most of the buildings in Japan from this devastating earthquake and saved many lives as a result, but the people affected by that disaster still suffer from chronic illnesses, mental problems, loss of family and exposure to nuclear power plant accidents—most notably Fukushima, which continues to pose contamination risks due to the severe infrastructure damage it incurred during the earthquake. The public health situation of a community is a key factor in measuring their resilience against disasters, and accordingly, the strengthening of mental and physical health must be made a priority when looking to curb the risks posed such disasters in the future.

On the other side, the process of rebuilding after a disaster is just as important as the capacity and resilience building processes that happen prior to a disaster. Health professionals have an important role to play in facilitating mutual, cooperative relationships with non-health professionals as they work together to help rebuild communities. Specialists, such as those involved in disaster medicine, need to forge partnerships with general health providers to create a unified approach to community resilience and rebuilding programs. The role the health professional plays is not only important in the acute response to injuries caused by disasters, but also in preparedness work, which is crucial to later making an efficient response to any disaster.

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In Japan, for example, nation-wide disaster medical response systems have saved many lives.  With the Tōhoku earthquake in 2011, systems such as disaster-base hospitals, disaster medical assistant teams (DMAT), staging care units (SCU), wide-area transportation systems, emergency medical information systems (EMIS) and disaster medical-public health coordinators worked efficiently in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, saving countless lives and limiting the impact of the disaster.

Despite these efforts, however, the medical and public health needs of the affected people exceeded the relief capacities in place at the time and, indeed, for several months after the event. Mental health problems including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and alcoholism are still huge problems in those affected, and it will take years to find solutions to these issues. Medical and public health preparedness should be emphasized and prioritized in order to build resilience to disasters in the form of long-running, systematized global health programs.

During the International Symposium for Disaster Medicine and Public Health Management that took place last May, scientists and experts in disaster medicine and public health reached a consensus that health concerns should be imperative in the formulation of disaster risk reduction interventions. Prioritization of the people’s mental and physical health in the process of disaster risk reduction should be in included in frameworks and policy at all levels. Preparation for people who need special assistance, such as those with disabilities, children and women, elderly people, people with chronic illnesses, foreigners and travelers, cannot be made without their own participation in the process of disaster risk reduction planning. 

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To achieve the above, education and training of general health-care providers and the continued development of the field of disaster medicine and public health are the only methods that will lead to long-lasting implementation.

All of this has been in the spotlight at the 3rd World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction taking place in Sendai, Japan earlier this month. The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 2005 to make the world more disaster resilient, will be revised in Sendai to reflect the post-2015 development agenda and give greater emphasis to the health of those vulnerable to the risk of natural disasters. The original HFA did not do enough to influence the design of existing national social protection mechanisms, particularly with regard to health programs and education schemes, which are crucial to building resilience to disasters. The new framework HFA framework under discussion in Sendai is meant to cover the next 20-30 years and will be expanded to include such important areas of social protection, like heath and education, effectively leading to the scaling-up of disaster resilience before disasters hit.

We, as health professionals, are striving to strengthen community resilience to disasters through the improvement of physical and mental health services. To do this, health professionals must be regarded as a key stakeholder working in concert with other professionals in the field of disaster risk reduction.

Shinichi Egawa (Tohoku University)

 

COHRED’s take on Prof. Egawa’s excellent contribution

In this guest post, Shinichi Egawa—Division of International Cooperation for Disaster Medicine, International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), Tohoku University—writes about disaster resilience as a necessary trait of ‘healthy’ societies. Governments across the globe are scaling up their combined efforts to reduce the risk of natural disasters. What role can evidenced-based health research, innovations and findings play in shaping local, regional and global Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) responses? How can we change from ‘disaster preparedness’ to ‘increasing community resilience’? How can public, private and non-profit interactions be streamlined to increase efficiency and impact and reduce duplication? How can we optimize technology and human resource development in early warning, mitigation and post-disaster response? These and other key issues will be under the spotlight at the forthcoming Forum 2015 in Manila, Philippines, for which Prof. Egawa is part of the DRR scientific committee. COHRED firmly believes research and innovation are key to make societies healthy and thus, as Prof. Egawa maintains in his post, disaster-resilient. We therefore aim to stimulate widespread discussion on specific recommendations to strengthen national (health) research and innovation systems to make societies in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) more resilient after natural hazards/disasters and adaptable to climate changes. Everyone interested in helping to develop the research and innovation systems of LMICs to become more disaster resilient – should be in Manila in August!

Carel IJsselmuiden (COHRED)

Social determinants of health at the Global Forum on Research and Innovation for Health 2015

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SPEED READ

 – Health is heavily determined by the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, and these, in turn, are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at local, national and global levels. These factors are usually referred to as social determinants of health.

– The Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) and its partners will host the Global Forum on Research and Innovation for Health (Forum 2015) in Manila, from 24-27 August 2015.

– Social determinants of health cut across many of Forum 2015 themes. In particular, they play a critical role in some of the topics that lay at the core of the programme, namely food safety and security, health in mega-cities and disaster risk reduction.

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As world leaders shift their focus to the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, it is important not only to understand the impact of research and innovation on health in relation to broad development objectives, but also, it is critically important to emphasize the role that research and innovation can have in reducing health inequities.

Social determinants of health (SDH) are mostly responsible for health inequities. In other words, health is heavily determined by the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, and these, in turn, are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at local, national and global levels. The role of research and innovation in addressing SDH and promoting health equity has been emphasized by WHO’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health, which in 2008 published the report Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health: “[I]t is through the democratic processes of civil society participation and public policy-making, supported at the regional and global levels, backed by the research on what works for health equity, and with the collaboration of private actors, that real action for health equity is possible” .

With this in mind, COHRED, in partnership with the Philippine Department of Health and Philippine Department of Science and Technology, will host the Global Forum on Research and Innovation for Health (Forum 2015) in Manila, from 24-27 August 2015. Forum 2015 provides a platform where low and middle-income countries take prime position in defining the global health research agenda, in presenting solutions and in creating effective partnerships for action.

HR_forum logo+dates and placeOver the course of three days, Forum 2015 will use informative and interactive discussions, workshops, networking sessions and activities to allow participants to interact, inspire, learn and partner to increase their own impact. This event will bring together all stakeholders who play a role in making research and innovation benefit health, equity and development. This includes high-level representatives from government, business, non-profits, international organizations, academic and research institutions and social entrepreneurs among others.

The programme for this event will be built around two major pillars showcasing: (1) key concepts needed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of research and innovation for health and development, as well as (2) ways that research and innovation contribute to solutions to important global health and development challenges faced by low and middle income countries today.

Forum 2015 programme pillars and themes

I. Increasing the Effectiveness of Research and Innovation for Health:
• Social accountability
• Increasing investments
• Country-driven capacity building

II. The role of Research and Innovation:
• Food safety and security
• Health in mega-cities
• Disaster risk reduction

Clearly, social determinants of health cut across many of these themes, but in particular, they play a critical role in the second pillar of this year’s programme, under the themes of food safety and security, health in mega-cities and disaster risk reduction.

For example, the objective of food security is not only to facilitate the accessibility of nutritious and sufficient food for people, but also to provide economic and physical access to food for socially vulnerable groups. Sessions under Forum 2015’s food safety and security theme will focus on research and innovation in scientific, economic, rights-based, and commercial terms to ensure new solutions and scale up existing efforts, to ensure that food and water remain – and become – accessible and affordable to all. Social determinants in this theme reveal themselves in choices taken in agricultural production, access and distribution of food, and even dietary habits and safety standards, which all vary by region and population.

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The rise of mega-cities creates a range of health challenges, both new and old – from the rise of NCDs and return of infectious disease, to traffic related accidents and mental health issues. These issues are shaped by social determinants including housing conditions, unsafe water sources and poor air quality, to poverty, marginalization and limited access to basic healthcare.

With regards to disasters, there is wide international agreement that efforts to reduce disaster risks and increase resilience must be systematically integrated into national policies, plans and practices. As governments all over the globe are taking initiatives to reduce their risks, sessions under the disaster risk reduction theme in Forum 2015 will examine issues related to vulnerable populations who disproportionately bear the brunt of that risk, along with the range of socio-economic factors that influence the health disparities that arise between these vulnerable groups and the general population.

While it is clear that social determinants affect the disparate health outcomes of population groups in relation to food security, health in mega-cities, and vulnerability to disaster, SDH research, as well as the need for high quality research on SDH, could appear throughout the Forum 2015 programme.

Forum 2015 encourages participation by all as the meeting programme spans a wide range of topics and input is welcome in form of organized session proposals and abstracts, also on how to feature SDH more prominently in the programme this year in Manila.

Anthony Nguyen and Charlie Kent (COHRED)

COHRED Fairness Index: Where there is need for best practices in health research collaborations

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SPEED READ

– The field of international health research partnerships is vast and mostly unstructured with gaps that often leave the expectations of actors in international collaborative partnerships unattended. Every year significant amount of global expenditure is drawn towards improving global health through partnerships and yet there are prominent North-South discrepencies in health related benefit sharing around the globe. Evidence has increasingly shown that North-South research partnerships have been plagued by inequity and unfair practices, including the use of Southern research resources to serve Northern priorities. As a result, decades of global support for health research in low and middle-income countries (LIMCs) have not substantially improved the systems that countries need to prioritize, conduct, commission, partner or finance research and to translate results into effective policy, practice and products.

– Availability of global health funds and resources is not adequate to resolve the issue. This is becoming an increasingly accepted vision of many researchers in LMICs who now have a focus on ‘ownership’ and demand for a ‘change in approach’. Indeed, increased involvement of LMICs in their national research and innovation agenda is a pre-requisite for making country-led strategies in health happen and for addressing local priority problems especially those that are not funded by global health funds. Such increased involvement has been an enabling factor for many emerging markets such as India, China as well as Thailand and now the Philippines and South Africa to poise for on-going growth, leveraging this capacity to become globally competitive and to support their own economies through research and innovation.

– It is often challenging for a single institution especially in a LMIC to rise and expand without support from global research and partnerships. To learn from China where according to the World Bank, all Millennium Development Goals are within reach, the country has made promising progress in this direction by holding majority of partnership stakes at all times for amelioration of its national business, research, drug and vaccine production.

– In spite of these efforts, several LMICs lag behind in their ability to sufficiently reap the benefits from research and innovation partnerships for system building and enhancing their economic activity. A crucial bottleneck is that bulk of these benefits finds its way into high-income countries and institutions. In 2005, the economic impact of global health activity in Washington State was such that it bolstered its taxes, jobs and social development. This clearly illustrates how global health research is not merely about global health but also about reinforcement of economic activity, employment and growth – sadly a benefit package streaming into high-income countries.

– The COHRED Fairness Index seeks to change this by proposing a certification mechanism that will encourage a fairer distribution of all benefits of research and innovation – not just products, but also measurable impacts on the economy and system building in LMICs. And ultimately, it intends to increase research and innovation capacity for global health by building up research and innovation systems everywhere – especially in LMICs.

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North-South research partnerships: building on equitable foundations

Years of global support for health in LMICs, has made it clear that international aid from governments, research institutions, for-profit enterprises, non-profit organisations, research sponsors and donors in high-income countries have helped LMICs achieve access to improved health care services and even products. And yet these countries are still seeking to achieve autonomy in priority setting and in aligning their research results and outcomes with their regional policies.

One of the major setbacks of continued donor dependency of LMICs is that they have not been able to address building the relevant capacity required to deal with their own health needs. Indeed, if the guiding principle that health is a public good and that all partners should share the burden and benefits of doing research for health equally, then the choice of identified priorities as areas of work and the investment in local research capacity must become equally important.

Building an environment where equitable research partnerships can flourish is possible. Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) research, for example, is a framework aimed at fostering the study of the complex interplay between environmental and genetic factors by investigating   disease susceptibility and drug responses in African populations. Founded by the Wellcome Trust and the National Institutes of Health, H3Africa research initiative spurred from concerns over inequality and exploitation, and strives to place “a firm focus on African leadership and capacity building as guiding principles for African genomics research,” with grants awarded to, and managed by, African scientists and institutions.

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Shaping a useful tool…

In line with this, the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) has embarked on the development of a standard: the COHRED Fairness Index (CFI) that would serve as a certification mechanism by providing guidelines for best practices in international collaborative partnerships in research for health. The CFI will not be about ‘naming and shaming’ but rather a mechanism that would encourage improvement of practices in international collaborative research partnerships for health. The CFI will thus include indicators, a measurement process, and a reporting system that is independent, transparent and that can address the key problems, potentials and challenges of collaborative research partnerships. Increased capacity of LMICs to perform research, enhanced ownership of data and results, reduction of harm of research to people, and reduction of reputational risk to all partners in the research process are a few examples of the ultimate impact of the implementation and use of the CFI.

Using a rigorous methodology, the development of the CFI started in early 2014 and its design is the result of a multi-sector consultation approach involving a Technical Working Group (TWG) with 30 representative key stakeholders from NGOs, international organizations, philanthropies, donors, the public and private sector as well as academic institutions. The input received from these key stakeholders in global research and innovation has been consolidated into a report, The COHRED Fairness Index Global Consultation Document. It formulates the outcomes of the consultation and is structured to give an overview of the scope of the CFI, its operational model as well its potential application and uptake by end users. The report is open for comments and contributions from the public until 27 March 2015. The purpose of this global consultation phase is to give every stakeholder outside of the CFI Technical Working Group an opportunity to steer certain aspects of the CFI according to their relevant expertise and needs.

Fair Not Unfair Sticky Note

 

…and making research and innovation work for everyone!

All such input will be invaluable for helping us revise the report, improving the alignment of the principles and scope of the CFI with the real needs of all stakeholders, and making it certain that the new version of the CFI receives broad approval. In April 2015, the Fourth COHRED Colloquium will bring together 80-100 key representatives of different stakeholder groups during a 2-day meeting at the Wellcome Trust in London. The results of the first global consultation will be presented at this meeting. Over the next 6 months, COHRED’s core writing group and Technical Working Group will then prepare an update of this document. Because COHRED seeks to institutionalise fair and equitable practices in international partnerships in research for health, we have decided to prioritize a part of our efforts on developing opportunities for meaningful endorsements or sponsorships to collaboratively sustain and strengthen an inclusive framework where all stakeholders of the CFI feel engaged and own the CFI experience (more information on endorsement or sponsorship for the CFI can be obtained by contacting musolino@cohred.org).

Finally, it is expected that the CFI will be inaugurated before the end of 2015. The pre-launch of the CFI is scheduled this year in August at the Global Forum on Research and Innovation for Health 2015 in Manila, Philippines. With its implementation in January 2016, we hope the CFI will serve its stakeholders to add value to specific areas of operation in research for health allowing to improve the alignment of interests of all partners in global health research in the first instance, and in the long run to increase the capacity of LMICs, to optimize the use of research to improve health, reduce inequity and finally stimulate socio-economic development.

Najia Musolino and Janis K. Lazdins-Helds

Universal Health Coverage: the right path towards equity and development

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SPEED READ

– A large global coalition of more than 500 organizations from over 100 countries, has marked 12 December 2014 as the first-ever Universal Health Coverage Day, to reaffirm that health is a right, not a privilege, and that access to quality health care should never depend on where you live, how much money you have or your race, gender or age.

– Investing in health is a wise choice. Indeed, making universal health coverage a priority for all nations could be the cornerstone of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda and a powerful driver of economic growth in low- and middle-income countries.

– The Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) proudly supports UHC Day and actively works on a number of activities at the global scale, all aimed at contributing to UHC through making the most out of the impact of research and innovation on the health and development problems of people in developing countries.

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Health is a right, not a privilege

“Health for all, everywhere”. Simple and linear as it may sound, attaining this is indeed a formidable challenge. Each year 1 billion people can’t afford a doctor, pay for medicines or access other essential care, and another 100 million fall into poverty trying to access it. In Africa and Southeast Asia, for example, nearly a third of households have to borrow money or sell assets to pay for health care.

Taking action to rapidly change this grim reality, on 12 December 2012, the United Nations unanimously endorsed Universal Health Coverage (UHC), declaring that everyone, everywhere, has the right to access the quality health services they need without facing financial hardship. Shortly after, Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization stated that, “Universal health coverage (is) the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer. It is inclusive. It unifies services and delivers them in a comprehensive and integrated way, based on primary health care.”

Responding to that historic call, a global coalition of more than 500 organizations from over 100 countries is now marking 12 December 2014 as the first-ever UHC Day. Spearheaded by The Rockefeller Foundation and WHO, this coalition is stepping up to reaffirm that health is a right, not a privilege, and that access to quality health care should never depend on where you live, how much money you have or your race, gender or age.

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Looking ahead, wisely: invest in health!

Making UHC a priority for all nations is not only a matter of justice and human rights. Rather, it could be the cornerstone of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda and a powerful driver of economic growth in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Health improvements drove a quarter of full income growth in developing countries between 2000 and 2011. At this rate of return, every US$1 invested in health would produce US$9-US$20 of growth in full income over the next 20 years.

To revisit the case for health investment, an independent commission of 25 renowned economists and global health experts from around the world came together from December 2012 to July 2013. The commission’s report, “Global Health 2035: A World Converging within a Generation”, was published in The Lancet on December 3, 2013 and launched on the same day at events in London, Tunis, and Johannesburg. The report clearly states that there is an enormous payoff from investing in health, and specifically makes the case that:

– the returns on investing in health are even greater than previously estimated;

– within a generation—by 2035—the world could achieve a “grand convergence,” bringing preventable infectious, maternal and child deaths down to universally low levels;

– taxes and subsidies are a powerful and underused lever for curbing non-communicable diseases and injuries;

– progressive universalism, a pathway to UHC that targets the poor from the outset, is an efficient way to achieve health and financial protection. Although some might believe that UHC is costly, studies consistently show that, when well-managed to provide quality care, it delivers better health outcomes at lower costs.

Thus, there is now widespread agreement that health may transform communities, economies and nations. But to tap into such a potential for development, the way that health care is financed and delivered must change, to be more equitable and more effective. Costs must be shared among the entire population through pre-payment and risk-pooling, rather than shouldered by the sick, and access must be based on need and unrelated to ability to pay.

Benefits can be almost immediate. If out-of-pocket spending for health services is eliminated or even reduced, money that families have to spend on health can now be spent on sending a child to school, starting a business or coping with an emergency. More broadly, UHC policies create resilient health systems: in times of distress, they mitigate shocks to people’s lives and livelihoods; in times of calm, they improve a community’s social cohesion and economic productivity.

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Adding the COHRED touch

COHRED proudly supports UHC Day. Delivering sustainable solutions to the health and development problems of people living in LMICs will require more than tackling health financing. If the medicines, health workers and health facilities do not exist, for example, it will be impossible to move toward UHC. In other words, strengthening health systems will be the key to ensure health for everyone and everywhere.

COHRED’s strong belief is that research and innovation play a crucial role in speeding up progress towards sustainable solutions to the health and development problems of people in LMICs. Either through enabling developing countries to identify their own national research priorities, or by providing leadership and effective solutions to support countries to build their own research and innovation systems for health and development, COHRED works actively to deliver UHC.

Last year, the WHO’s annual World Health Report was focused on “Research for universal health coverage”, remarking that UHC, with full access to high-quality services for prevention, treatment and financial risk protection, “cannot be achieved without the evidence provided by scientific research”. In the report, several examples of COHRED’s work are cited. These include Health Research Web, a global platform for information and interaction on health research for development, and RHInnO Ethics, a platform for research ethics review management.

Reaffirming its own commitment to contributing to UHC through research and innovation, COHRED is currently seeding the future, by shaping novel groundbreaking initiatives. In April 2015, the COHRED Fairness Index (CFI) will be officially presented in London. CFI is designed to provide an assessment tool to stakeholders to measure and report vital information that reflects their performance with respect to transparency, level of engagement, accountability and equity in their collaborations. The aim is to encourage good practices in North-South health research collaborations, for the benefit of health development and innovation in LMICs. Furthermore, COHRED and its partners are gearing up for the Global Forum on Research and Innovation for Health 2015, “People at the Center of Health Research and Innovation”. Planned for August 2015 in Manila, Philippines, Forum 2015 will bring together all stakeholders who have a part in making research and innovation benefit health, equity and development. Finally on stage as leading role actors of their own future, LMICs will take prime position in defining the global health research agenda that better suits their needs, in presenting solutions and in creating effective partnerships for action.

Universal health coverage is the final destination of a journey the World cannot afford to delay. Many paths lead to that destination. COHRED is making its way with determination and optimism about the impact of its global action.

Anthony Nguyen and Carel IJsselmuiden

Forum 2015: People at the center of research and innovation for health

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SPEED READ

– 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.

– Forum 2015 will be jointly hosted by the Department of Science & Technology and the Department of Health of the Philippines and COHRED in Manila, Philippines, 25-27 August 2015.

– 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.

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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. [1]

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.”

Secretary Mario G. Montejo of the Department of Science and Technology (left) and Prof. Carel IJsselmuiden of the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) (right) during the signing of  the Agreement for hosting the Global Forum for Health Research 2015 in Manila. Credit: Philippine Council for Health Research and Development
Secretary Mario G. Montejo of the Department of Science and Technology (left) and Prof. Carel IJsselmuiden of the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) (right) during the signing of the Agreement for hosting the Global Forum for Health Research 2015 in Manila. Credit: Philippine Council for Health Research and Development

“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.

Credit: Philippine Council for Health Research and Development
Credit: Philippine Council for Health Research and Development

“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.

Carel IJsselmuiden

[1] (see also: http://www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph/index.php/2012-05-23-07-46-36/2012-05-24-00-01-11/6656-dost-cohred-sign-agreement-for-philippine-hosting-of-global-forum-2015-in-manila)