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In the late 1990s, a group of visionary people decided that the world needed a global view in health research. As a result, the Global Forum for Health Research was established as an independent international foundation in Switzerland in 1998.

In 2008, the Global Forum celebrated 10 years of achievements, having:

  • effectively advocated around the "10/90" gap and driven the case for better targeted and prioritized research to address the health needs of poor populations
  • provided a forum for exchange, learning and innovation to decision-makers in research, funding and policy
  • developed high-quality evidence and tools that help guide decisions in research for health.

The Global Forum's origins lay in the recognition of three key facts:

  • Improving health is not only an outcome of development but also a prerequisite for development. Consequently, investment in health yields one of the highest rates of return that a country can achieve.
  • Improving health requires the effective application of existing research. It also, crucially, requires research aimed at creating new knowledge and new technologies. This includes the whole spectrum of research:
    • biomedical sciences (creating affordable and accessible new drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and appliances)
    • health systems and policy research
    • social sciences
    • political sciences
    • health economics
    • behavioural and operational research
    • research into the relationship between health and the cultural, physical, political and social environments.
  • Few of the world’s resources for health research are directed to solving the health problems of developing countries.