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2009 Overview

This has been another very productive year for the Global Forum for Health Research. Working under its Strategy 2008-14, the Global Forum has expanded the scope of its work, its visibility and its impact to promote more research to improve the health of the poorest and most disadvantaged populations.

Continuing the work on tracking global resources for R&D in health, this year saw the publication of Monitoring Financial Flows for Health Research 2009, which was launched in November in Havana, Cuba. This publication includes reports on tracking health R&D resources in several Latin America and Caribbean countries and the 2009 Report Card, which reviews progress on the financing of development, health and research.

This year the Global Forum made major contributions to the WHO Expert Working Group on R&D Financing, with a study on the global R&D resources for communicable and non-communicable diseases and a review and recommendations concerning coordination of global R&D efforts.

In the important are of priority setting, the Global Forum developed a new version of the Combined Approach Matrix (CAM) to assist priority-setting in research for health. This new 'three dimensional' version adds a formal perspective on health equity - including poverty- and gender-related aspects - to the analysis of priority research options.

We have continued to collaborate with a number of organizations and experts in priority areas of neglect, such as research on sexual and reproductive health, mental health, noncommunicable diseases and safety and health at work. The impact of climate change and the need for more research to protect the health of the poorest and most vulnerable populations to has been an important focus for us this year.

Globally, increasing attention is now being directed to strengthening health systems and the need for research to support this process - and especially to bring the equity dimension into focus - has become increasingly apparent. During 2009 the Global Forum has attracted support from the Rockefeller Foundation to undertake an assessment of resource flows for health systems research as a springboard for strengthening this area of research in future.

Innovation for health can cross many sectors and disciplines and this year innovation has been a major focus of the Global Forum’s work. The 6th annual edition of the Global Forum Update on Research for Health presented around 30 articles on the theme innovation from policy makers and experts worldwide. We are also working with a number of other organizations such as the World Economic Forum, the Ashoka, Schwab and Skoll Foundations and UNITAID on a number of projects to foster both social and technological innovation for better health in low- and middle-income countries.

Last but not least, in November the 13th annual Forum meeting was held in Havana, Cuba. This was attended by 937 participants from 85 countries on the theme of “innovating for the health of all”.