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Joining forces for global health research

The Norwegian Medical Association (NMA) and the Research Council of Norway will work together to take the lead in global health research. In September key national and international actors in the field will be convening in Oslo for a major conference.

This year the NMA is celebrating its 125th anniversary and has chosen to combine its anniversary conference with the annual conference of the Research Council’s Programme for Global Health and Vaccination Research (GLOBVAC).  

Åse Marit og Kårstein “We are very pleased that the Norwegian Medical Association has chosen global health as the theme of its anniversary conference,” say Åse-Marit Kristiansen and Kårstein Måseide in the Research Council. “We are very pleased that the Norwegian Medical Association has chosen global health as the theme of its anniversary conference. It will help to place the topic firmly on the agenda, and together we can reach a wider audience,” says Åse-Marit Kristiansen, Adviser for the GLOBVAC programme.

“The Norwegian Medical Association seeks greater focus on the question of how medical associations around the world can become more involved in global health research. This ties in with our efforts to enhance capacity-building both in Norway and in low- and middle-income countries. As well as disseminating research results, the conference will draw attention to the role of medical associations and other professional health associations in the field of global health,” Ms Kristiansen explains.

Universities need to become involved
“We want to get the universities involved, both in order to hear what they are doing in this field now and to find out what they can commit to in the future,” says Kårstein Måseide, Programme Coordinator for the GLOBVAC programme.

“Research programmes such as the GLOBVAC programme have a limited life span. In order to ensure continuity in the long term the universities must make global health one of their research priorities. The extent to which the different universities have focused on this field up until now varies a lot,” explains Mr Måseide.

The conference is being organised by the Research Council and the NMA, in cooperation with the Norwegian Forum for Global Health Research, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation – Norad, the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the University of Oslo.

“The conference will address a wide range of topics within the field of global health research. Participants will gain insight into current efforts in this field internationally, and there will be discussion of how Norway should become involved. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be participating to discuss potential cooperation both in connection with vaccination programmes and capacity-building initiatives in the health services in countries in the South.”

High level of international interest
As Mr Måseide explains, many international actors view this conference as an opportunity to establish ties with Norwegian research groups.

“An increasing number of international actors are coming to conferences organised under the GLOBVAC programme in order to build contacts with Norwegian research groups.”

“Norway is in the lead in efforts in a several areas in the field of global health research, but the field remains underfunded. So it is crucial that top Norwegian researchers strengthen ties with prominent international research groups.”

This year the number of participants from the South will be greater than at previous conferences under the GLOBVAC programme, both as speakers and as representatives of medical associations.

Focus on young researchers
A large number of young researchers will give presentations at the conference.

“This year there is a particular focus on young researchers, as capacity-building is a key topic. Projects under the GLOBVAC programme are being encouraged to send their young researchers to the conference to give them new experience and enable them to market themselves,” says Ms Kristiansen.

Applied for a ten-year extension
Many of the projects carried out under the GLOBVAC programme are now in their concluding phases. Both vaccination research projects and health system research projects will be presented at the conference.

The Research Council has proposed extending the GLOBVAC programme for a further 10 years for the period 2012-2021, and is awaiting a final decision regarding funding.  

Written by:
Written by: Siv Haugan. Translation: Anna Godson/Victoria Coleman
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