Where there is despair, hope

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 23 November 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1194

Three initiatives to improve health research and health care in the South were announced at the Global Forum for Health Research meeting. Annabel Ferriman reports from Tanzania

Three initiatives designed to change the face of health research and health care in Africa and other developing countries were announced at the sixth meeting of the Global Forum for Health Research in Tanzania last week.

Three new organisations are being set up: an African forum for health research, to be led by African scientists; a programme to develop drugs for neglected diseases, an initiative of Médecins Sans Frontiàres; and a centre to train health researchers to understand and navigate the complex laws on the patenting of drugs, being set up with money from the Rockefeller Foundation.

On the setting up of the African health research forum, Tanzania's minister of health, Anna Abdallah, said: “Africa has long waited for this important development. At long last the dream has come true.”

African scientists decided to set up the forum to address the continent's low contribution to research. Health spending in most African countries is usually less than 1% of gross domestic product, and only about 0.2% of the health budget goes on research—compared with about 1.7% of the health budget in some other low and middle income countries, such as Brazil and Cuba.

No money for research

“Research has received little policy attention and insignificant investments …

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