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Global research leaves out poor

29th October 2006

Although global spending on health research has risen by 20 per cent, not enough is being channeled to tackle health issues in the developing world, according to a report by the Global Forum for Health Research.

This conclusion comes despite a growing awareness of the significance of health research, says Stephen Matlin, director of the forum. He announced the report's release ahead of the forum's annual meeting in Cairo, Egypt which runs from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2.

The report states that global spending on health research rose sharply from US$105.9 billion to US$125.8 billion per year between 2001 and 2003.

Steven Koch, a health economist based in South Africa, suggested that this increase may be linked to concerns in industrialised countries about rapidly ageing or obese populations, or due to multinational pharmaceutical companies facing patent expiry problems in the near future.

He said the real issue was how much money was being spent within a developing country — and spent effectively — rather than knowing how much health research investment is under way worldwide, and whether it comes from a public or a private source.

Yet data on health research spending are hard to obtain, and are often only available with a delay of 2-3 years.

Meanwhile Matlin highlighted the importance of countries creating the necessary legal and policy framework to ensure that innovation works to benefit the health of needy populations rather than producing only expensive products for rich markets.

The Global Forum for Health Research was founded in 1998 to focus on research efforts for the often-overlooked health problems of the poor.

 

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