4. Priorities for Global Research and Development of Interventions


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Richard Lord, www.rlordphoto.com

Despite advances in health care around the world, as measured by life expectancy and childhood immunization, the health gap between rich and poor countries remains: for example, Sub–Saharan Africa, parts of East Asia, and the Pacific suffer disproportionately from communicable diseases and poor nutrition, and children under five still account for a large share of the disease burden in many developing countries. In addition, the world at large faces an epidemic of cardiovascular disease and major unipolar depressive disorders.

A long–term view of global health recognizes the increasing convergence of health problems and the importance of research to transfer knowledge successfully from industrial to developing countries. At the same time, new health care technologies, drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics raise demand for health services and highlight the issues of access to information and equity.

The challenge is how to set priorities for research and development of interventions in the context of constrained resources. One approach focuses initially on a small number of key priorities that have a reasonable chance of succeeding and yielding cost–effective outcomes. A better understanding of the commonality of health problems between the industrial and developing countries is central to setting priorities for global health research, as are securing governments' commitment to health training and institutions, ensuring the open exchange of information, and supporting freedom of scientific inquiry.