Looking for concrete results

Grumblings around the conference are indicating that not all the delegates are convinced the Bamako Call to Action will result in real-world deeds. One delegate at a session on health system strengthening said yesterday that we could simply photocopy the various communiques from previous meetings, such as the Mexico Ministerial Summit on Health Research, and change the dates. “We’re not saying anything new – what is the progress we’ve made?” he questioned.

But while progress may not be revolutionary, others feel the health research community has come a long way since Mexico. The focus on research for health in this forum, rather than health research, has been highlighted by many speakers as a move towards a more inclusive research community, and one which can consider the determinants and effects of both poor and good health, rather than simply focusing on biomedical research.

And sometimes meetings such as these can have immediate effects at a country level. Aissatou Touré from the Institute Pasteur Dakar in Senegal told the same session that after the Algiers meeting, a decision was made to create a commission for research in the country’s health ministry, incorporating all the different actors involved in research for health to define the national research agenda for years to come. Let’s hope actions like these are not unusual, and the Bamako meeting will have many such legacies.

Katherine Nightingale, SciDev.Net

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