High quality global health research in Norway
Global health research is characterized as one of the country’s “particularly strong research areas” in the recent evaluation of biology, medicine and health research in Norway.
The evaluation panel notes that Norway has a unique potential in this area, in particular because of the country’s political commitment and central role in issues concerning global health.
The panel focuses on the impressive performance of some institutions and research groups in the area of health problems in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa, but also in Southeast Asia and South America.
“In spite of the small size of Norway, some of the research units have made great contributions. In particular, a number of units had very well developed strategies and suitable long-term impressive visions,“ states the evaluation.
The panel notes that the leading research groups in this field fully understand the importance of developing global health research as real partnerships, in which local collaborators are involved in the entire process.
The evaluation finds that the best units have mechanisms in place to secure that PhD students from the partner countries who spend time in Norway, return to their native countries to use the knowledge that they have acquired in local activities.
Requires long-term funding
The panel emphasizes that research activities overseas with implementation in the form of preventive activities, require units with a sufficient size and long-term funding.
They mention that “some successful research units, in particular in the fields of epidemiology and global health, would be able to make very good use of additional resources. This would benefit research in these areas, and be of practical use to Norway and other countries. At the least, this should be carefully considered by Research Council of Norway in the relative distribution of funding,” states the panel.
The Research Council of Norway’s Programme for Global Health and Vaccination Research (GLOBVAC) has recently been extended until 2020. “This gives us a chance to think long-term, “says Mari Nes, Director at the Research Council of Norway.
During the 2012-2020 period, in the order of NOK 600 million will be allocated to projects under the GLOBVAC programme.
Effective strategies for collaboration
The evaluation recommends that “The good and effective strategies for collaboration, developed by some units over a considerable period of time”, deserve to be disseminated to other units active in the global health area, not only in Norway, but also internationally.
“We are very pleased with these findings. The best research environments have succeeded in building research capacity over time, and have managed to establish real and equal partnerships with researchers in low- and middle income countries, “ says Dr Nes.
“We now hope that most of the relevant research institutions in this country will commit themselves to long-term investments in this area,” adds Dr Nes.
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