Research is indispensable for resolving public health challenges – whether it be tackling diseases of poverty, responding to rise of chronic diseases, or ensuring that mothers have access to safe delivery practices.
Likewise, shared vulnerability to global threats, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome, Ebola virus disease, Zika virus and avian influenza has mobilized global research efforts in support of enhancing capacity for preparedness and response. Research is strengthening surveillance, rapid diagnostics and development of vaccines and medicines.
Public-private partnerships and other innovative mechanisms for research are concentrating on neglected diseases in order to stimulate the development of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics where market forces alone are insufficient.
Research for health spans 5 generic areas of activity:
- measuring the magnitude and distribution of the health problem;
- understanding the diverse causes or the determinants of the problem, whether they are due to biological, behavioural, social or environmental factors;
- developing solutions or interventions that will help to prevent or mitigate the problem;
- implementing or delivering solutions through policies and programmes; and
- evaluating the impact of these solutions on the level and distribution of the problem.
High-quality research is essential to fulfilling WHO’s mandate for the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health. One of the Organization’s core functions is to set international norms, standards and guidelines, including setting international standards for research.
Under the “WHO strategy on research for health”, the Organization works to identify research priorities, and promote and conduct research with the following 4 goals:
- Capacity - build capacity to strengthen health research systems within Member States.
- Priorities - support the setting of research priorities that meet health needs particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
- Standards - develop an enabling environment for research through the creation of norms and standards for good research practice.
- Translation - ensure quality evidence is turned into affordable health technologies and evidence-informed policy.