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The Global Forum for Health report has revealed how the global expenditure on health research in 2005 reached a staggering US$160.3 billion, yet despite the high investment levels, research is still failing to address the significant health needs of low and middle income countries.
The report, launched today, has demonstrated that this is the greatest sum ever spent on health research.
The report found that together, G7 countries were responsible for over 88% of all publicly funded health research undertaken by high-income countries in 2005, with most of the money spent by high income countries going towards generating products, processes and services required for their own healthcare needs.
The report also found that the global investment in health research represented 4.1% of the total estimated national health investments worldwide.
“Millions of people are still suffering and dying each year from diseases that disproportionately affect poor populations. For example, globally almost 10 million children under five years old die each year and 97% of child deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries,” said the Global Forum’s Executive Director, Professor Stephen Matlin.
“Ongoing health research in developed countries is of course very important, but what this report shows is that despite the levels of health research investment, all countries need to commit a bigger proportion of their spending to the challenges in the developing world.”
The changing global health landscape is another reason health research is urgently required. Over the next 25 years the situation in low- and middle-income countries will become even more complex as health problems more associated with high-income countries affect more people.
The 2005 report found that the state of adult health globally is characterised by three major trends: the slowing down and widening of health gaps, increasing complexity of the burden of disease and globalisation of adult health risks.
As health challenges in the developing world become increasingly diverse and complex it is important that a wide spectrum of health research is conducted to meet these disparate challenges. Research will need to be broad and multidisciplinary.
Dr Gill Samuels, Head of the Foundation Council of the Global Forum for Health Research, said “We are seeing vast changes in the global health landscape with the burden of disease shifting from infectious to noncommunicable diseases. Chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes now account for 60% of deaths globally and an alarming 80% of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.”