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Global Forum Newsletter - December 2009

21 December 2022

Dear Reader,

As 2009 draws to a close we are happy to send you our season's greetings and reflect upon the past year's achievements and highlights. 2010 promises to be a momentous year with many exciting projects in store and the arrival of our new Executive Director, Professor Anthony Mbewu, who takes office in January.

Read more on 2009 activities here.

Forum 2009: Innovating in Havana

Forum 2009 was one of our most successful forums in terms of engagement with participants, content of sessions and diversity of stakeholders. By underlining how innovation can play a role in achieving health equity for poor and disadvantaged populations, the Forum's Programme included innovative case studies from social entrepreneurs and innovative approaches to priority setting and health systems strengthening.

A special Report on the Forum is in preparation. More to come soon...!

Below is a special focus on this unique event.

As an introduction, please click on the link below to see a short film which captures the flavour and spirit of Forum 2009.

Making the Headlines

Forum 2009 received over 600 impacts in newspapers, journals, radio and television around the world. The successful coverage is due to a number of factors including the draw of Cuba as an example of innovation and health and a number of high profile speakers including ministers of health. The Global Forum also drew on its advocacy experience by liaising closely with the Cuban authorities and encouraging them to open up their centres of excellence to the press. Site visits proved to be a unique and exciting experience where media from a number of countries got to see for themselves the Cuban health system. This opportunity provoked widespread interest and excellent coverage.

Please click on the link below to see details of our media coverage.

Forum 2009 will also be remembered for its innovative approach to exchange and debate including lightening sessions and interactive sessions. Below is a selection of the participants' favourite sessions.


  • More money for health, more health for the money

This session focused on challenges, issues and innovative mechanisms to maximize the value of investments in health. The session was well-attended and over the heated discussions, a consensus emerged that there is a considerable knowledge gap on how to improve health financing in low- and middle-income countries. Policy recommendations underlined the fact that low-income countries that do not have the capacity to provide universal coverage often have small scale innovative financing schemes that fill the gap. These options should be explored and expanded. Evidence-based policy decisions are also essential to making healthcare financing successful. The overall conclusion of a full and productive session was that research is needed to identify sustainable sources of funding, to define ways to improve the management of financial risks and to ensure that money for health is spent wisely. For more information, please contact Téa Collins ( ).

  • Climate change, innovation and health equity

This session was well-attended and provided some useful interactions and insights. The session looked at a new approach to development by bringing equity agendas and environmental health together with coherent policies. Major efforts are needed at local, regional and global levels to conduct the necessary research which will enable the careful design, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes, thereby addressing the staggering health inequities that are exacerbated by climate change. The session underlined the need for multi-disciplinary approaches and alternative financial tools to complement emergency assistance. The need for climate-based tools and methodologies for public health, such as geographic health information systems, was also discussed. For more information, please contact Sylvie Olifson ( ).

  • Biotechnolgy in Cuba

The session looked at Cuba’s biotechnology industry and saw how it is one of the country’s top priorities with huge investments from the Cuban government. Participants learned about the biotechnology research facilities, many of which are world-renowned and gaining competitiveness in terms of quality, production and joint-ventures. The output of Cuba’s industry such as its 33 vaccines against infectious diseases was also underlined. One of the main messages to emerge from the session was that other countries could learn from Cuba’s collaborative approach to health using integration and coordination between institutions doing research and those applying the results.

  • Monitoring financial flows

The Research Flows Programme convened a Satellite Meeting on Tracking Resources for Health Research to take stock of current efforts and work towards a sustainable system for monitoring investments in health research. Participants, consisting of academic researchers, advocates, methodological experts and regional bodies, agreed that information is fragmented and that the Global Forum needs to play a more active role in using available data, as well as be the space to discuss how resources should be spent on health R&D. At the end of the day, the Global Forum committed to acting as a network node, undertaking an inventory of current approaches, and working towards new methodological frameworks for tracking. For more information, please contact Marta Feletto ( )

Global Forum News

A time of change

As we turn the page from 2009 to 2010, it is time to thank and bid farewell to Professor Stephen Matlin, our Executive Director for the last six years.

Under Stephen's leadership, the Global Forum has successfully shifted the focus of global attention from health research to "research for health", emphasizing the critical role played by biological, economic, environmental, social and other determinants of health to improve health outcomes and health equity. The Foundation Council members and his team wish him the best in his future endeavours.

Stephen Matlin

Professor Matlin is succeeded by Professor Anthony Mbewu, currently President of the South African Medical Research Council, who will take office in Geneva in January 2010.

Anthony Mbewu

Link to Prof. Mbewu's background here.

Foundation Council

We say goodbye to long-term member Dr Ok Pannenborg, who has represented the World Bank on the Global Forum’s Foundation Council. Ok was a founding member of the Global Forum for Health Research in 1998 and contributed to establishing the mission, role and strategy of the organization. We thank him for his commitment and wish him great success in his future endeavours.

Ok Pannenborg

Ok will be replaced by Dr Armin Fidler, lead adviser to the World Bank on Health Policy and Strategy. Armin is a physician with training in tropical medicine and master degrees in public health and health policy and management from Harvard.

Two other members of our Foundation Council have completed their respective terms and we thank them warmly for their contribution, support and guidance:

Daniel Mäusezahl Richard Horton

Finally, we are pleased to announce three additional new members of the Foundation Council who joined the Global Forum in November 2009: Dr Gu Lihong, Dr Michael Clarke and Dr Arthur Marx. We welcome these new members and look forward to collaborating with them in the future.

Looking towards 2010 - First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research

Tim Evans and Téa Collins at Forum 2009

An interview in Havana, with Dr Tim Evans, Assistant Director-General at the World Health Organization (WHO) and Dr Téa Collins, Global Health expert of the Global Forum for Health Research. More

Seasons greetings

The Global Forum takes this opportunity to thank its donors and partners for their ongoing commitment and support.

And finally we would like to thank you all for your continued interest and cooperation. We wish you all a great holiday season and send you our best wishes for 2010.