Ministers, Stakeholders Meet In Mali To Strategise On Health Research Systems20/11/2008 by Kaitlin Mara, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now.By Kaitlin Mara Ministers of health, science and technology, and social development met this week with scientific researchers and representatives from foundations, the private sector and civil society to discuss the future of research for health on diseases disproportionately affecting the developing world.“Data matters, and the sharing of data matters,” Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust and member of the recently-named expert working group on financing for neglected diseases at the World Health Organization told the conference.“If,” he added, “we’re going to demonstrate firstly, what the demography of disease is; and secondly, measure whether we are having an impact, then we need the type of information” necessary to make that assessment. It is then possible to convince people, for example, “that malaria is a huge problem, and it is a problem which affects some parts of the globe more than others.”He was speaking at the Global Ministerial Forum on Research For Health, held in Bamako, Mali from 17 – 19 November, an event unique in bringing together high-level leadership in sectors of health research that do not always have the chance to interact. It was co-sponsored by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Cultural, Scientific and Educational Organization, the World Bank, the Global Forum on Health Research, and the Republic of Mali.The final call to action and communiqué were expected to be released shortly. Update: the final call to action is now available here [doc]. The final communiqué is now available here [doc].The conference aimed to strengthen leadership for health, equity and development by helping governments incorporate health research into their national research strategies and by enhancing international cooperation. It also sought to engage all research and innovation stakeholders, including public and private sector actors and local, national and international organisations working in different disciplines; and to increase accountability of research through better measurement of outcomes, impact assessment, monitoring, and transparency.Outputs of the event include a “final communiqué,” aimed generally at ministries, health researchers, academics, and the private sector and representing the collected views and recommendations of participants in the forum. The event was invitation-based, bringing together over 600 stakeholders in health research from around the world, selected for inclusion by a “Bamako 2008 Programme Committee” made up of nineteen experts in health and science research.The other event output is a “call to action” – a document which is targeted more specifically at the World Health Organization and which will be submitted to its May 2009 World Health Assembly. This document has been longer in the writing, and incorporates stakeholders both at and outside of the forum.The final call to action had not been made available as of press time, but a draft version [pdf] includes a statement that WHO’s Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPOA) contains recommendations “relevant to various important dimensions of research for health” and a call for WHO, UNESCO, and other UN agencies and partners to “strengthen coordination and joint actions in the wide variety of areas impacting health where their mandates overlap, such as technological and social innovation, intellectual property rights, ethics, the environment and climate change, food security and safety.”Two panels during the forum also discussed intellectual property-related matters: one focussed on the GSPOA, approved last May (IPW, WHO, 29 May 2008) and another discussed the implications of a recent report of the International Expert Group on Biotechnology Innovation and Intellectual Property (IPW, Biotechnology, 18 September 2008).The GSPOA session discussed the synergies between the new document and an ongoing WHO Research Strategy, and attempted to find ways that implementation on both could be coordinated. Topics raised, according to internet information platform TropIKA, included that coordination was “challenging” when member states have more than one established research institution.Speaking at the session were Sally Davies, director general of research and development in the United Kingdom Department of Health, and Huda Gashut, minister counsellor for health matters at the Libyan mission to the UN in Geneva. Anthony MBewu, president of the Medical Research Council in South Africa, Sania Nishtar, president of Heartfile, a health-sector think tank based in Pakistan, and Gill Samuels, chair of the Global Forum for Health Research in Geneva acted as panellists.Nishtar also is a member of the newly-formed group of experts at the WHO who are tasked with assessing gaps in financing on research and development in diseases disproportionately affecting the developing world and with finding innovative financing strategies for addressing those gaps (IPW, WHO, 19 November 2008). Nishtar also spoke on equity in mixed public and private health systems and on priority in health policy systems research.In addition to Nishtar and Walport, five other experts from the WHO expert working group were scheduled to speak at the event. Peter Ndumbe, dean of the Faculty of Health Science at the University of Buea in Cameroon was to discuss research in response to pandemics; Keizo Takemi, senior fellow at the Japan Center for International Exchange and research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, spoke on research emerging from the Group of 8 developed countries; and Miriam Were, who chairs the National AIDS Control Council of Kenya, was to be a panellist in a roundtable on research for health systems development. Walport spoke on research and pandemics and codes of conduct for data sharing. [Note: Joy Phumaphi of the World Bank was scheduled to speak on research needed to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals, and in particular on goals related to hunger, though a source said Phumaphi could not attend.]The session on intellectual property systems intended to identify a path towards implementing the International Expert Group on Biotechnology Innovation and Intellectual Property report’s recommendations, which included: governments paying as much attention to innovation environments, including health and environmental regulation and laboratory facilities, as to IP; standardisation of patent office forms for collecting patent information and making the data publicly and freely available; private sector transparency on patents held; academic institutions’ establishment of principles on the use of their IP and better collaboration with universities in countries at different income levels; and media organisations covering more science policy news.According to a participant, speaking on the panel were Tania Bubela, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Alberta (Canada) and Anthony So, director of the Program on Global Health and Technology Access at Duke University (United States). They both contributed to the report. David Castle of University of Ottawa and Richard Gold of McGill University, previously listed here as speakers, did not speak at the event, the participant said.Kaitlin Mara may be reached at email@example.com.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Related"Ministers, Stakeholders Meet In Mali To Strategise On Health Research Systems" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.