Funding for biomedical research (2) The 10/90 gap and the Global Forum for Health Research

18 May, 2020

Thank you Julie.

This raised a number of questions for me:

1. The data relate to 2016. Is there a reason for the time lag?

2. Research allocation is by disease. Is there any reporting on, for example, health systems research funding versus clinical research versus basic science research?

3. Are there any data on health information and libraries research / research to better understand how to improve the availability and use of reliable healthcare information?

Also, when I read this I thought "The 10/90 gap is still very present". For those who may not be familiar, the 10/90 research gap indicates that less than 10% of worldwide resources devoted to health research were put towards health in LMICs, where over 90% of all preventable deaths occur.

The term was coined by the Global Forum for Health Research. In the early years of HIFA I attended several annual Global Forums for Health Research and found them dynamic and energising. The Forum was merged in 2010 with COHRED, the Council on Health Research For Development.

Googling for an update on the Forum I came across this new paper:

CITATION: What Happened to the Global Forum for Health Research?

George Weisz

Global Public Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice

Published online: 15 Apr 2020


The Global Forum for Health Research (GFHR) was founded in 1998. It was the culmination of an advocacy movement started in 1987 to campaign for the expansion and coordination of health research benefitting low- and middle-income countries. It was largely funded by the World Bank and embraced that institution’s emphasis on cost effectiveness. But its small budget prevented it from assuming the central role in global health research that its supporters had envisaged. It took on more modest tasks, focusing on advocacy, organising an annual conference and monitoring research funding. In 2010, it was absorbed amid general indifference by another small organization, the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) and eventually disappeared from sight. We argue in this paper that its fate had two major causes. First, it resulted from operational and budgetary problem and its inability to attract the new money that was pouring into Global Health (GH). Second, it reflected the aggressive efforts by the WHO to reclaim leadership in this domain. Underlying this failure, however, was the inherent difficulty of coordinating the ideologically fragmented and individualistically oriented GH research domain.

Unfortunately the full text is restricted access. I have invited the author to join us.

Meanwhile, can anyone give us an update on the Global Forum for Health Research, COHRED, trends in the 10/90 gap, and current mechanisms for linking research funding to global and national burden of disease in LMICs? It is notable that the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research took place in the same year that the Global Forum merged with COHRED, and Health Systems Global has since continued to thrive (although with a focus on HSR rather than biomedical research).

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: