Turning words into actions?

This week (17–19 November) ministers of health, science and technology will get together with health researchers, nongovernmental organisations, funding councils and donors to debate the priorities for global health research at the Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health (or Bamako 2008) in Mali.

The meeting is a follow up to the Ministerial Summit on Health Research, held in Mexico City in 2004, which focused on overcoming the ever-evident gaps between research and policy, and policy and action.

SciDev.Net’s coverage at the time concentrated on the dearth of funding for health systems research, the disparity in funding for health research between developed and developing countries, and the need to recognise the burden of non-communicable diseases.

Somewhat depressingly, these issues remain at the top of the agenda today and will likely receive a great deal of attention at Bamako 2008, highlighting just how slowly things have moved on in the last four years.

Will the Bamako meeting be any different? Will the delegates have the opportunity to interact enough with the ministers? Will anything new come out of the ministerial discussions? And most importantly, will the final Bamako Call to Action be acted upon globally and in individual nations?

We’ll be there — the Air France pilots’ strike permitting — to give you the low-down on the sessions, the general mood at the conference, and whether it looks as though the words might just turn into action …

Katherine Nightingale and Shiow Chin Tan, SciDev.Net

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