Global Forum for Health Research 2009, Havana, Cuba

Welcome to the blog for Forum 2009, taking place this week in sunny Havana!

The theme of the meeting, innovation, is the lifeblood of research. Without it, countries never truly develop a thriving science base and are relegated to the shadow of innovative neighbours.

It’s appropriate then that scientists from around the world have gathered in Cuba to discuss scientific and technological innovation.

Political circumstances have forced Cuban researchers to innovate and develop with homegrown talent. The question now is how these lessons can be translated to the rest of Latin America – and to Africa and Asia.

Transferring knowledge isn’t the only issue of course – developing countries need to create an innovation-friendly environment for researchers to thrive in.

I’ll be writing more about how to bridge these knowledge gaps, through better knowledge translation and South-South collaboration, for example.

Another issue that I’ll write about this week is innovation in health systems research. This is an enormously tricky topic in global health. We know that developing countries need better health systems but we know very little about the science of how to improve them.

Tim Evans, assistant director-general for for information, evidence and research at the WHO and TDR scientist Shenglan Tang are leading sessions this week on health systems research as a prelude to the first global symposium on health systems research that they are hosting next November in Switzerland.

Over dinner last night, Evans maintained that innovation is most urgently needed in health systems research. It’s certainly true that while funders and big pharma fall over themselves to pump money into research for drugs and vaccines, few line up to pour money into developing an evidence-base for improving health systems.

Do you agree? We’d like to hear your thoughts on the top priorities in innovation for developing countries. Comment below to share your ideas.

Priya Shetty, SciDev.Net, priya4876@gmail.com

One Response to Global Forum for Health Research 2009, Havana, Cuba

  1. Dr Sheikh Abdus Samad says:

    Priya, you are right, I do agree that basic health facilities are urgently necessary for developing countries.

    In India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, basic health facilities are not present in rural hospitals. As a result, poor people are not getting treatment for pregnancy, TB or malaria-like diseases. The public health system should be modernised by the government or concerned private funders.

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