Monitoring equity and research policy

When will we ever learn? Improving lives through impact evaluation
Evaluation Gap Working Group/ Eldis, 30 June 2006

This report provides a strategic solution to the evidence gap in development programming. The report argues that by bringing vital knowledge into the service of policymaking and programme design, it is possible to improve the effectiveness of domestic spending and development assistance. The group was asked to investigate why rigorous impact evaluations of social development programmes, whether financed directly by developing country governments or supported by international aid, are relatively rare; as well as ways to improve on this.

Where does research fit in a post-truth world?
Guth J: Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank, WHO, November 2017

A large study in 3 west African countries examined how to increase the numbers of pregnant women receiving malaria preventive treatment, and getting diagnosed and treated. There were many health systems issues that were identified that created barriers, such as lack of transportation or well-trained healthcare providers at the regional health facilities. Video interviews were conducted with people involved in the project and shared with policy-makers, healthcare providers and community members. The use of video helped to provide local context – of settings and people. It strengthened the understanding and credibility of the associated research results and showed strong collaboration between the research team and community, a proven facilitator in research uptake. The video was reported to have had a profound when it was shared and led to strong statements of commitments to make changes based on this study. The author suggests that it is necessary to use every tool possible to show the utility of science and how it improves people’s lives in ways that they can see and feel.

Where there is no health research: What can be done to fill the global gaps in health research?
McKee M, Stuckler D and Basu S: PLoS Medicine 9(4), 24 April 2012

In this global review, researchers aimed to determine which countries are experiencing gaps in health research, identifying Chad, Angola, DRC, Sudan, Lesotho, Rwanda, Madagascar, Algeria, and the Central African Republic as African countries with the lowest levels of health research. Efforts to strengthen capacity in health research have, so far, concentrated on countries where there is existing capacity rather than those where it is almost completely lacking. Judged by absolute numbers of scientific papers, those with the fewest are mainly small islands and a few countries that are politically isolated. Judged by papers per capita, the lowest include countries in the former Soviet Union and Africa, both regions experiencing declines in life expectancy in recent years, and states experiencing conflict. Although there is a positive association between economic development and research output, some relatively wealthy countries seriously underperform. There are many examples of good practice, including regional networks and international partnerships. The authors present a strong argument for external funders to look to the long term and consider how best to build health research capacity where it is virtually absent.

WHO and UNICEF estimates of national infant immunisation coverage: Methods and processes
Burton A, Monasch R, Lautenbach B, Gacic-Dobo M, Neill M, Karimov R, Wolfson L, Jones G and Birmingham M: Bulletin of the world Health Organization 87(7): 535–541, July 2009

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) annually review data on immunisation coverage to estimate national coverage with routine service delivery of commonly used vaccines. The estimates are based on government reports submitted to WHO and UNICEF and are supplemented by survey results from the published and grey literature. Local experts are consulted for additional information on the performance of specific immunisation systems. Estimates are derived through a country-by-country review of available data informed and constrained by a set of heuristics – no statistical or mathematical models are used. Draft estimates are made, sent to national authorities for review and comment and modified in light of their feedback. While the final estimates may not differ from reported data, they constitute an independent technical assessment by WHO and UNICEF of the performance of national immunisation systems. These country-specific estimates, available from 1980 onward, are updated annually.

WHO Board urged to act on worrying smallpox research trends
Ching LL: Third World Network, 22 January 2007

Disturbing indications that the US is expanding or intending to expand research with smallpox virus outside of WHO control and that WHO may be back-pedalling on some of its previous decisions, have led NGOs to call for a strong resolution on smallpox on the part of the Who Executive Board which meets this week in Geneva.

WHO calls on governments to prioritise research for health
WHO Afro, 17 November 2008

The World Health Organization has called on governments to prioritise health research and echoed a proposal by the Commission on Social Determinants of Health for the inclusion of health in the policies of all government ministries and departments. The call was made by WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, in a statement to the Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health Research in Bamako, Mali. Dr Chan underlined the key role of research in keeping health high on the political agenda saying: 'We must have evidence and we need the right kind of evidence … because in most countries, an appeal to health equity will not be sufficient to gain high-level political commitment. It will not be enough to persuade other sectors to take health impacts into account in all policies. In matters of health, equitable access to care is a matter of life or death. When equity is at stake, the health sector must take on a proactive role, even if this means stepping into territories outside the usual domain of public health.'

WHO Experts On R&D Financing Aim To Find Solutions, With Short Timeline
Saez C: Intellectual Property Watch, 8 April 2011

The Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development (CEWG) met from 5-7 April 2011. It was the first meeting of the group, set up at the last WHA, to succeed to a previous group, the Expert Working Group(EWG), whose work was criticised by member states and stakeholders as lacking transparency and being tainted with conflict of interest. The mandate given by the WHA to the CEWG was to take the work of the EWG forward, according to the CEWG Chairperson. The group decided that its core mandate was to help deliver on two elements of the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPOA). These are element 2 on “promoting research and development”, and element 7 on “promoting sustainable financing mechanisms.” The EWG’s work was mainly focused on element 7 of the strategy. Beyond those two core elements, the group also sees its work as an integral part of the global strategy and will take into account the interrelation with other elements of the strategy, such as prioritising research and development needs, building and improving innovative capacity, transfer of technology and application and management of intellectual property to contribute to innovation and promote public health.

WHO Global Plan of Action on Workers’ Health (2008-2017): Baseline for Implementation
World Health Organisation: April 2013

In 2007, the 60th World Health Assembly endorsed a Global Plan of Action on Workers’ Health for 2008-2017 and urged WHO member states to devise national policies and plans for its implementation. To establish a baseline for measuring progress, information was collected in 2008-2009 from Member States – this report presents the findings of that survey. While most countries have introduced ways of addressing risks at the workplace such as integrated management of chemicals and tobacco smoking bans, enforcement of regulations for workplace health protection remains insufficient. Less than half of countries surveyed have endorsed or drafted a national plan of action on workers’ health. Only one third of countries cover more than 30% of their workers with occupational health services. Although half the countries have national workers’ health profiles with data on occupational diseases, injuries, and legislation, information about communicable and non-communicable diseases among workers and about lifestyle risks are the least-covered topics. Workers’ health issues feature in policies concerning management of chemicals, emergency preparedness and response, employment strategies, and vocational training. However, workers’ health is seldom considered in policies regarding climate change, trade, economic development, poverty reduction, and general education.

WHO launches online hearing on innovative funding sources for research and development
New W: Intellectual Property Watch, 6 March 2009

The World Health Organization is soliciting new ideas for funding sources to stimulate research and development on diseases predominantly afflicting developing countries, with some in developed countries. The web-based public hearing, being held online from 7 March to 15 April 2009, will contribute to an intergovernmental mandate to come up with ways to address the shortage of research in this area. The expert group hopes to solicit additional ideas from member states and other stakeholders for its consideration. The final report will be presented at the May 2010 Health Assembly. The web-based public hearing is open to individuals, civil society groups, government institutions, academic and research institutions, the private sector and other interested parties. The link to the online public hearing is:

WHO, Geneva, May, 2002

The World Health Organization (WHO) released on May 16,2002 a global plan to address those issues. The strategy provides a framework for policy to assist countries to regulate traditional or complementary/alternative medicine (TM/CAM) to make its use safer, more accessible to their populations and sustainable. "Traditional Medicine: Growing Needs and Potential" is the core of the WHO Strategy for Traditional Medicine for 2002-2005. It provides brief information on the growing needs and challenges faced by traditional medicine worldwide. It also gives key messages and a checklist for the safety, efficacy and quality to policy-makers. It sets out WHO's role and how the WHO Strategy could meet the challenges to support WHO Member States in the proper use of traditional and complementary/alternative medicine.

Further details: /newsletter/id/29162