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PROMOTING CANADIAN INVOLVEMENT AND CAPACITY BUILDING IN GLOBAL HEALTH POLICY AND SYSTEMS RESEARCH: PERSPECTIVES AND RECOMMENDATIONS (Short Paper) Slim Haddad David Zakus Université de Montréal University of Toronto Katia Mohindra (UdeM) Xiaolin Wei (UofT) May 30, 2002 Research Contract from The Institute of Population and Public Health, Canadian Institutes of Health Research 1
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INTRODUCTION When the Commission on Health Research for Development pointed out that 95% of funds spent on global health research were addressing only 7% of the world’s health problems (CHRD, 1991), a modest reorientation towards Global Health Research took place in which several initiatives were launched (GFHR, 2000). Now around 10% of research funds are allocated to 90% of health problems, the so-called 10/90 Gap (GFHR, 2000). Under the auspices of the WHO, the ‘Adhoc Committee on Health Research Relating to Future Intervention Options,’ was established in 1995 and carried out an extensive and in-depth review of health needs and related priorities for research and development in low and middle-income countries (WHO, 1996). It identified “a serious degree of neglect of resources to inform health policy in all regions” and pointed out “the need for more and focused efforts to improve the information base on which governments can build health into their development plans and monitor the performance of their health systems.” To fill this gap in Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR), the ‘Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research’ ( www.alliance-hpsr.org ), a global network of over 400 partner institutions for Global Health Policy and Systems Research (GHPSR) was launched in March 2000, with a mandate to promote global research on and for health policies (Block, 2000). The aims of the Alliance were to develop capacities for HPSR, improve the knowledge base for health systems and health policies, strengthen international health collaborations and identify global level issues affecting health systems. There remained, however, a great need for more research to promote equitable, effective and sustainable health systems in the South. Meanwhile, a growing sentiment in Canada argued that Canada and Canadian research would benefit by more Canadian involvement in Global Health Research. Not only it would reinforce Canada’s expertise and contribute to improving the Canadian health care system, but it would also help to ensure more effective Canadian overseas development aid (ODA). To further support this sentiment are the three recently launched interconnected initiatives: 1. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) (June 2000). Contrary to its predecessors (MRC and NHRDP), the CIHR demonstrated an institutional will to provide support for Canadian research in Global Health ( www.cihr.ca/partnerships/international/ghrie.shtml ).
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