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BRICS nations agree to collaborate on research and public health challenges

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f369 (Published 18 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f369
  1. Soumyadeep Bhaumik
  1. 1Kolkata

Health ministers of the group of developing countries known as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have signed an agreement to work together on research projects and to reduce the burden of disease.

Meeting in New Delhi on 10 and 11 January, they adopted the “Delhi communiqué,” which promises greater collaboration in ensuring access to public health services and in implementing affordable, equitable, and sustainable solutions to emerging health threats.1

The communiqué identified several priority areas: non-communicable diseases, mental disorders, multidrug resistant tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV and AIDS.

Agreeing with the idea of thematic areas for research and development, Tanmay Mahapatra, director of medical research at the Mission Arogya Health and Information Technology Research Foundation, in Kolkata, said, “Each of these focus areas need to be addressed with specifically targeted research planning and development to minimise the burden of ill health contributed by them.”

But he regretted the non-inclusion of reproductive health, saying that India needed research initiatives “to diminish the public health concerns contributed by diseases related to poor reproductive health.”

The communiqué also emphasised the need to retain the flexibilities of the TRIPS (trade related aspects of intellectual property rights) agreement, because it enabled countries such as India to provide cheap generic antiretrovirals to poor countries.2

Mahapatra thought that the new collaborative approach would produce an initiative specifically designed for the respective populations of the BRICS countries rather than one that used existing methods and interventions that had not proved useful.

But some experts were sceptical about such communiqués. Rakesh Biswas, professor of medicine at the People’s University of Bhopal, said that unless stakeholders from the BRICS countries themselves became involved in policy formulation, the resulting policies would be based on “borrowed evidence from the US and UK.”

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f369

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