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Global Forum initiatives


Over recent decades, many low- and middle-income countries have experienced profound changes in their burden of disease. Their health problems now include noncommunicable (chronic) diseases and injuries in addition to infectious diseases. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and diabetes are leading causes of death and chronic illness in most middle-income countries and many low-income countries.


Although almost 10 million children under 5 years still die every year in the world, enormous strides have been made since 1970, when over 17 million child deaths occurred. Seven out of 10 deaths in children under the age of 5 years occur in low-income countries - most of them in Africa - and can be attributed to six major causes: pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, neonatal infections, preterm delivery and asphyxia at birth. Undernutrition is an underlying cause in an estimated 30% of all deaths among children under 5.


Well-organized and sustainable health systems are vital to ensure equitable access to effective health interventions. Yet, there is insufficient use of knowledge for enhancing health system performance for two main reasons:

  • there is a gross lack of information on the performance of health systems and on how policies affect performance;
  • even when knowledge is available, it is not necessarily known or used by policy-makers.

Research is a vital tool to support the processes of policy and systems development, implementation and evaluation.


While neither the public nor the private sector alone can eliminate health inequities, together they can make a synergistic contribution. In the last few years, product development partnerships (PDPs), a form of public-private partnerships (PPPs), have gained growing popularity as mechanisms for increasing access by poor populations to essential drugs. As a result, PDPs have established an expanded pipeline of candidate drugs and vaccines for clinical trials.

The scale of investments now needed to ensure that the best candidates go forward into clinical trials exceeds the funding capacity of any one donor in the public or philanthropic sectors.


Every year, road traffic collisions take the lives of 1.2 million men, women and children around the world and seriously injure more. As a result, road traffic injuries (RTI) are currently among the top 10 leading causes of death and disability in low- and middle-income countries.

Unless there is appropriate and prompt intervention, they likely will be the third leading cause of death and disability in 2020 due factors such as increasing urbanization.


Sexual violence is a profound human rights violation which has the potential to impact severely on the mental and physical health of survivors, both in the short term and over time. It is an epidemic fuelled by gender inequality and remains one of the least researched and understood forms of gender-based violence.

Research is critical in assisting researchers, policy-makers and programme managers to strengthen existing intervention and prevention programmes for sexual violence and to develop new, more effective responses.