89th session of the TDR Standing Committee

New York, 28 and 29 March 2011

The 89th Session of the TDR Standing Committee (SC) took place in New York and was hosted by UNICEF. The one and a half day meeting focused on the reorganization, restructuring and governance of TDR and on areas of cooperation with its co-sponsors.

Summary of decisions and recommendations

  • The SC commended the efforts that have gone into TDR's reorganization process and reiterated its broad agreement and support for the way forward. The SC recommended that TDR should underline the cross cutting and intersectoral nature of its new and leaner organizational set-up.
  • The SC welcomed the opportunity offered to TDR to become an operational partner in the implementation of UNICEF's equity focused approach to child survival and development by providing research evidence for the design, implementation and evaluation of UNICEF's health programmes. The SC recommended that TDR should give priority to this collaboration and discuss and clarify the practical aspects as soon as possible.
  • The SC recommended that TDR further step up its resource mobilization drive and invests more effort and staff time in the formulation and submission for funding of high quality proposals. The SC advised that TDR's resource mobilization efforts need to be backed up by a communication and advocacy strategy that highlights the outputs and outcomes of TDR's work in health research.
  • The SC approved the plan presented by TDR to accelerate representation of nongovernmental entities on the Joint Coordinating Board (JCB) to be implemented at the Thirty-fourth JCB in Geneva in June 2011, following electronic consultation with and agreement by all current members of the JCB. This plan includes the successful application of at least one nongovernmental cooperating party as a member of the JCB under paragraph 2.2.3 of the TDR Memorandum of Understanding.
  • The SC recommended that the TDR Global Report for Research on Infectious Diseases of Poverty (provisional title) make explicit reference to the broader political, economic, trade and security environment that influence global health. The SC welcomed the offer of the World Bank to provide input to the report in this regard.
  • The SC recommended that operating procedures be drafted which define the terms of reference of the respective governing bodies of TDR more clearly, and expanding on the procedures which are outline in the MOU of the Special Programme. The SC requested that the agenda for its future meetings should clearly identify whether items are for information or for decision-making and endorsement. Overall, the SC recommended that TDR's character as a co-sponsored programme be reaffirmed and further strengthened.

Summary of proceedings


  • The SC expressed appreciation and thanks to UNICEF for its welcome and hospitality and for accepting to chair this year's sessions of the Standing Committee.
  • The SC adopted the agenda of the meeting and the minutes of the 88th Session of the SC which took place in Madrid in November 2010.

Opening remarks by WHO

  • In her opening remarks, Marie-Paule Kieny, Assistant Director-General for Innovation, Information, Evidence and Research and TDR Special Programme Coordinator (who participated in the meeting from Geneva by video link), thanked the members of the SC for their invaluable support in the last few weeks since TDR embarked on its reorganization and restructuring. Dr Kieny stressed that the Director-General of WHO, Margaret Chan, took a personal interest in following this process very closely, ensuring her continued support to TDR and its leadership.

News from the co-sponsors

  • UNICEF presented to the SC the analytical framework for its equity-focused approach to programme delivery, highlighting the need for evidence-based strategies to address supply and demand bottlenecks of deprived populations. Mark Young stressed that there is a sense of urgency within UNICEF for an evidence based approach to programming. Such a move is strongly supported by Executive Director Anthony Lake and a number of key donors, including USAID, CIDA Canada, UK DFID and AusAID.
  • UNICEF expressed interest in exploring possibilities for a partnership with TDR in the field of operational research. UNICEF notably seeks to answer through real time evaluations if it is "doing the right things" to achieve the expected strategic results; if its programme implementation is adequate; and if it is on track and making a difference, e.g. in reducing child mortality. UNICEF pointed out that partnering with TDR would include joint fundraising.
  • TDR responded that it will be pleased to explore such a partnership and to play a role as the health research arm in the implementation of UNICEF's equity strategy. TDR expressed its readiness to engage, as soon as possible, in bilateral discussions with UNICEF on this matter and welcomed the opportunity for a bilateral discussion with Dr Nicholas Alipui, Director of Programmes, following the meeting of the SC.
  • UNDP apologized for the absence of Jeffrey O'Malley who was unable to attend the SC meeting due to his attendance at a meeting of the United Nations Chief Executives Board in Nairobi, Kenya, accompanying UNDP's Administrator Helen Clark.
  • Tenu Avafia of UNDP reported on his bilateral meetings with TDR to explore collaboration on Intellectual Property issues regarding the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostic Innovation (ANDI). Given the work that has been undertaken by UNDP at the East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) on intellectual property policy to facilitate pooled procurement and local manufacturing of medicines, UNDP confirmed its interest in collaborating with TDR on ANDI.
  • TDR reiterated its readiness to further explore cooperation with UNDP on ANDI. TDR informed the SC that the Kenyan Minister for Public Health and Sanitation, Ms Beth Mugo, and the South African Minister for Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor, were jointly elected co-chairs of the Board of ANDI at its inaugural meeting in January 2011.
  • UNDP and TDR agreed to further discuss potential opportunities for synergy and collaboration related to south-south partnerships.
World Bank
  • The World Bank informed the SC about the forthcoming Spring Meetings of its 187 Member States (15-17 April) and the successful conclusion of the sixteenth International Development Association (IDA) replenishment which resulted in donor pledges of nearly US$ 50 billion for the next three fiscal years, an increase of 18 percent on the previous round three years ago.
  • Other news from the World Bank included the following:
    • The collaboration with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle with the aim of assessing better the health impact of its investments, including in the infrastructure and education sector. Dr Fidler stressed that it was a major scientific challenge to measure the health impact of the World Bank's investments in non health sectors.
    • The 2012 World Bank World Development Report (WDR), to be published in November 2011, will focus on Gender Equality and Development. The repost will highlight the evolution of gender equality across the world in the context of the development process and will not only focus on women and girls but also draw attention to the vulnerability of boys.
    • The recently published book "Great Recession and Developing Countries: Economic Impact and Growth Prospects" examines what policies and reforms can increase the resilience of developing economies to such external shocks as the 2008 economic and financial crisis.
    • The concern about food price inflation that could cause an increase in poverty and malnutrition. Between October 2010 and January 2011 there was an increase of 15 percent in the price of basic food commodities.
  • The World Bank confirmed that TDR funding through the Development Grant Facility (DGF) is now assured until 2015. Dr Fidler is pursuing internal discussions with Vice President Axel van Trotsenburg to explore ways in which funding contributions to TDR, as a strategic partner of the Bank in the field of health research, can be secured beyond 2015.
  • Dr Kieny pointed out that TDR, as a part of the Innovation, Information, Evaluation and Research (IER) Cluster, remains central for research in WHO. TDR is seen as an asset to the IER cluster and WHO as a whole and there have been no attempts to modify or change TDR's role or status as a Special Programme.
  • Since October 2010 the IER cluster is the "acquired home" for innovation. The integration of the secretariat of the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on public health, innovation and intellectual property (GSPOA) in the Cluster is seen as a welcome development.
  • Dr Kieny highlighted the following developments which are of particular relevance to the IER Cluster:
    • Higher priority given by WHO to e-health and the use of information technology for health.
    • Regular meetings of the Research Collaborative Group which brings together, at Director level, Geneva based health research entities including TDR, the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR), the Council on Health Research and Development (COHRED)/Global Forum for Health Research;, WHO/Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) Department and WHO/Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals (IVB) Department.
    • The forthcoming 64th World Health Assembly, at which Innovation and Empowerment, two major focus areas of the IER Cluster, will be important agenda items.
    • The World Conference on Social Determinants of Health, which WHO will convene from 19-21 October 2011, hosted and supported by the Government of Brazil. The aim of the World Conference is to bring WHO Member States and other actors together to catalyse high level political support for national policies to address social determinants of health to reduce health inequities.
  • Dr Kieny also pointed out some other significant developments for WHO as a whole:
    • The establishment by the Director-General of WHO in December 2010 of a Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health which is co‑chaired by Jakaya Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada. The Commission will propose a framework for global reporting, oversight and accountability on women's and children’s health. It will create a system to track whether donations for women's and children's health are made on time, resources are spent appropriately and transparently and whether the desired results are achieved. Expert Working Groups presented two discussion papers: Richard Horton, an editor at The Lancet, addressed how to improve accountability for results and Mariam Ally of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine addressed the best ways to ensure accountability for financial resources. The report of the Commission will be out in May
    • The increased global focus on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Following a resolution which was adopted by the UN General Assembly last year, a summit on NCDs will take place in New York on 19 and 20 September 2011 (preceding the opening of the General Assembly). The summit will be organized in close collaboration with WHO.
    • The serious financial constraints that affect WHO. Several departments of WHO are already or will be undergoing a similar process of restructuring and streamlining as TDR. This process takes place within the framework of reforms that the Director-General has initiated and which include a review of WHO's governance and decentralized regional structure. The reform process will examine the three levels of organization, i.e. headquarters, regional and country offices, with the aim of reducing redundancies and overlap and enhancing accountability. There are also plans for establishing, in conjunction with the World Health Assembly, a multi-stakeholder Global Health Forum which would give a voice and representation to civil society organizations and global health foundations, for addressing critical health issues and effectively contribute to shaping WHA decisions.
    • The challenge of securing sufficient funding for the 2012-2013 budget which is currently being developed. In order to ensure adequate funding for the Organization, the idea of establishing a replenishment mechanism is currently being discussed.
TDR reorganization and restructuring
  • Robert Ridley presented the briefing paper provided to the SC on TDR's reorganization and restructuring process. Dr Ridley recalled that the process was prompted by an anticipated shortfall of some US$ 14 million in TDR's budget of US$ 100 million for the current biennium 2010-2011 and projected income for a budget of US£ 70 million in the biennium 2012-2013. Dr Ridley thanked the SC for their guidance since the beginning of this year. He pointed out that the formal approval by WHO of TDR's new structure with a reduced number of staff positions was imminent and that TDR staff would be informed of the results of the reprofiling shortly. TDR's new structure has 64 positions. Further downsizing of staff may yet occur through natural attrition.
  • Dr Ridley stressed that despite the reduction in staff, the Programme will continue to follow the broad aims of its current strategy over the next three years to the conclusion of its six year business plan.
  • Jamie Guth (who joined the discussion on TDR's reorganization and restructuring by video link from Geneva) outlined the key elements of the TDR communications strategy on the reorganization process, which has a threefold objective: (1) maintain and enhance TDR's credibility during the time of reorganization; (2) help ensure sustainability of the Programme by strengthening the commitment of TDR's stakeholders, including its staff, to the strategic directions of TDR; and (3) support stepping up of resource mobilization efforts. The key message of all communications on the reorganization is that TDR is enhancing its efficiency and reducing costs through a more streamlined organizational structure and clear priority setting and reduced costs.
  • The SC recognized the efforts undertaken by WHO and TDR in addressing its critical funding situation and in rapidly moving forward since the beginning of this year with the reorganization and restructuring process.
  • The SC approved the proposed new organizational structure of TDR. The SC emphasized that the cross-cutting nature of TDR's work across units needs to be reflected in the visual presentation of the organigram. The SC also recommended a further sharpening of the objectives of the units and is looking forward to a fully elaborated plan of activities as the new structure is implemented.
  • The SC made a number of general as well as specific comments and recommendations which included the following:
    • Elaboration of joint workplans with co-sponsors. This request was reiterated in the context of the proposed partnership between UNICEF and TDR for the implementation of UNICEF's equity approach.
    • Result orientation as a management principle throughout the Special Programme. TDR's Performance Assessment Framework and the 2010 draft report on the performance indicators were seen as important steps in this direction.
    • Explain the cross cutting nature of TDR's new structure.
    • Communicate through various channels, including the TDR web site, that the reorganization is currently being concluded and that TDR will remain faithful to its mandate.

Financial status and resource mobilization challenges

  • TDR provided the SC with a table of income and expenditure for the biennium 2008-2009 and for the year 2010. The table indicated that TDR's expenditure in 2010 was US$ 50.6 million whereas its income was US$ 45.5 million. TDR also provided the SC with a table showing projected income for the period 2011-2013.
  • Dr Ridley pointed out that TDR was confident that it would be able to raise the financial resources for its reduced budget requirements of US$ 70 million for the biennium 2012-2013. The challenge remains, however, to bridge the budget shortfall of the current biennium, which is still projected to be around US$ 6 million.
  • Meinrad Studer provided a brief overview of TDR's ongoing resource mobilization activities, highlighting ongoing efforts aimed at: (1) securing future contributions from TDR's key donors; (2) receiving a substantial increase from current donors including Brazil, China, India and Thailand; and (3) targeting new potential donors including the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Mr Studer also pointed out that TDR was stepping up its activities aimed at receiving additional designated funding. The SC was provided with a table listing TDR's applications for designated funding which have been submitted recently and those which were in discussion/preparation.
  • The recommendations of the SC included:
    • Further enhancing communications with donors and pro-actively engaging with key donors to ensure their continued support.
    • Stepping up efforts for the submission of high quality proposals for designated funding.
    • Seeking opportunities to implement operational research projects of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria through a partnership with recipient countries.

TDR's governance

  • The SC gave its endorsement to the plan presented by TDR to accelerate representation of nongovernmental cooperating parties on the JCB. The SC identified among the potential candidates whose interest could be solicited the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, DNDi and the Wellcome Trust. The SC advised that this matter should be brought forward rapidly by the TDR secretariat through the necessary contacts and negotiations to allow for a vote on such membership at JCB(34).
  • The SC recommended that Operating Procedures be written which define the terms of reference of the respective governing bodies of TDR more clearly, and expanding on the procedures which are outline in the MOU of the Special Programme. The SC requested that the agenda for its future meetings should clearly identify whether items are for information or for decision-making and endorsement. Overall, the SC recommended that TDR's character as a co-sponsored programme be reaffirmed and further strengthened.
  • The SC stressed that it was critical to maintain TDR as a partnership that is different from a WHO programme and to further strengthen the nature of co-sponsorship including by allocating clearly defined decision-making authority to the TDR Governing Bodies.

Preparations for JCB(34)

  • The SC made the following recommendations on the draft agenda for JCB(34) which will take place in Geneva from 13 to 15 June:
    • TDR's achievements should be presented following the report of STAC.
    • Operating procedures for the Standing Committee should be presented to the JCB for endorsement.
    • A special donor meeting should be organized as a side event to the JCB. It was decided that such a meeting be planned as a dinner meeting on Tuesday, 14 June 2011. The SC suggested that a prominent outside speaker be invited to address the meeting.
    • TDR's financial issues should be discussed by the JCB prior to the donor meeting.

Strengthening of TDR's cooperation with its co-sponsors

  • The SC welcomed the opportunity for TDR to become an operational partner in the implementation of UNICEF's equity focused approach and recommended that TDR should move ahead to discuss the practical aspects of such collaboration as soon as possible.
  • The SC also welcomed the interest of UNDP to continue exploring collaboration with TDR, notably on intellectual property policy related to ANDI.
  • The World Bank encouraged TDR to seize opportunities of collaboration with the Bank at country and regional level, as was initiated recently by the participation of TDR in a World Bank sponsored workshop on TB Diagnostics Operational Research Initiative in East Africa. The World Bank pointed out that country offices had their own budget and that any support for TDR involvement in country or regional programmes would have to come from budget lines that are allocated to countries.
  • The SC reiterated that TDR should share a draft of the Global Report for Research with its co-sponsors, as early as possible. The SC pointed out that from the outline document it appeared that linkages were missing with the broader political, economic, trade and security environment that are impacting on global health and welcomed the offer of the World Bank to provide input to the report in this regard. TDR informed the SC that it should be in a position to share a mature draft with its co-sponsors within three weeks.

Membership of STAC

  • TDR informed the SC that it had received 89 applications for STAC membership in response to its call. A short-list of candidates for the six vacancies on STAC as of 1 January 2012 was presented to the SC. The applications for the six vacancies of STAC will be further discussed between Director TDR and Chair STAC and a final selection of six candidates will be presented to JCB(34) for its endorsement.

Next Meeting

  • The next meeting of the Standing Committee is planned to take place in Oslo Norway on either 11 and 12 October or 17 and 18 October 2011, subject to confirmation by the Government of Norway.

List of participants


United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Dr Mark W. Young
Senior Health Specialist, Policy and Evidence, Health Section, Programme Division

Rudolph Knippenberg
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Mr Tenu Avafia
Policy Specialist, Intellectual Property and Trade
HIV/AIDS Practice, Bureau for Development Policy

World Bank

Dr Armin Fidler
Lead Health Policy Adviser, Human Development, The World Bank

World Health Organization (WHO)

Dr Marie-Paule Kieny
Assistant Director-General, Innovation, Information, Evidence and Research (IER)

Mr Werner Obermeyer
Senior External Relations Officer, WHO Office at the United Nations

Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR)

Dr Robert Ridley
Director, (TDR)

Mr Meinrad Studer
Manager, External Relations and Governing Bodies, (TDR)

Ms Jamie Guth
Manager, Communications

Chair STAC

Professor Mario H. Rodriguez-Lopez
Director, National Institute of Public Health Ministry of Health, Cuernavaca, Morelos, México

JCB officers

Dr Jorge Motta
Investigador Asociado, Instituto Conmemorativo Gorgas de Estudios de la Salud, Miembro del Consejo Directivo Nacional del Sistema Nacional de Investigacion. Panama

TDR resource contributors

Professor Rolf Korte
Senior Health Policy Advisor, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), Germany