WHO for investment in local health research

At the launch of the “World Health Report 2013: Research for universal health coverage,” the World Health Organisation (WHO) called on countries to continue investing in local research in order to develop a system of universal health coverage tailored to each individual country’s situation.

According to the International health agency, with universal health coverage, countries can help ensure that citizens obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them. The report reveals that on average, domestic investment in research in low- and middle-income countries has been growing 5 per cent each year. The trend is most visible in emerging economies like Brazil, China and India, all of which have embraced the concept of universal health coverage. “In India, for example, everyone is eligible to use government health services, but direct out-of-pocket payments are still among the highest in the world,” said the report.
Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO, describes universal coverage as “the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer.” “Universal coverage is the best way to cement the health gains made during the previous decade. It is a powerful social equaliser and the ultimate expression of fairness.” The report shows how countries, when developing a system for universal health coverage, can use research to determine what health issues should be addressed, how a system should be structured and how to measure progress according to their specific health situation.
Case studies from many countries demonstrate the importance of local and global research for improving health, ranging from the prevention and control of specific diseases to the better functioning of health systems. The results of these studies emphasise the critical need for research to be carried out locally, where researchers can consider specific factors critical to individual countries.
The report also shows that more health research is being published as a result of international collaboration. Scientists from low- and middle-income countries are increasingly engaged in these collaborations, although high-income countries continue to play a prominent role in most studies. “Brazil, India and other countries have increased their participation in published research. However, although research is increasing overall, growth is uneven,” added the report.

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