Strengthening governance for global health research

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7264.775 (Published 30 September 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:775

The countries that most need health research should decide what should be funded

  1. Kelley Lee, senior lecturer in global health policy,
  2. Anne Mills, professor of health economics and policy
  1. Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT

    Education and debate p 813

    As experts from around the world gather in Bangkok to attend the international conference for health research for development and to ponder the challenge of strengthening this research, they face a monumental task. About $56bn (£37.3bn) per year is spent worldwide on health research by both the public and private sectors; this is more money than ever before.1 Yet far more could be done both to increase the amount spent and to improve how funds are used. The Global Forum for Health Research, one of the sponsors of the Bangkok conference, estimates that less than 10% of research funds are spent on the diseases that account for 90% of the global burden of disease. This gap is now widely quoted as epitomising the inequitable nature of health research. The consequences of this gap are profound: diseases affecting large proportions of humanity are given comparatively little attention. Similarly, simple and low cost technologies, appropriate for use in settings with few resources, are undervalued and hence inadequately researched.1

    Much of …

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