The facets of TDR research from drug discovery to implementation
First meeting in the Americas region
From the development of new antimalarial drugs in high-tech laboratories to field research in remote locales, collaborations with Brazil reflect TDR’s range of research and capacity strengthening initiatives in the Americas, and the many facets of TDR research globally. These activities formed the setting in which the 31st session of TDR’s Joint Coordinating Board was staged in Rio de Janeiro. Following the meeting, which focused on TDR’s new strategy implementation, JCB participants viewed TDR-supported activities firsthand, in field trips to the Amazonas and to facilities of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation.
Joint Coordinating Board reviews TDR’s strategy implementation
RIO DE JANEIRO – The Joint Coordinating Board (JCB), TDR’s top governing body, held its 31st session 16-18 June in Brazil, a country whose links to TDR extend back to the early days of the programme.
TDR’s progress in implementing its new Ten Year Strategy, which became operational in January, was a key focus of this year’s JCB discussions. TDR Director Dr Robert Ridley reported on how TDR’s new ‘Empowerment’ and ‘Stewardship’ functions are responding to unmet needs in the global health research area – helping to identify research priorities, advocate for needs and develop research leadership.
JCB participants emphasized the need for greater linkages between researchers, policy-makers and other stakeholders to support research strengthening nationally and at the global policy level. The JCB also called on TDR to work for stronger collaboration among funding agencies supporting research, in line with the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. A number of disease endemic countries (DECs) have already committed to allocating 2% of their national health budget to research for health. However, more work needs to be done to expand that commitment, JCB participants said, as well as to ensure that Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) members fulfill their commitment to invest 5% of its overall development assistance in research. Efforts to increase participation of representatives of the DECs and other regional representatives in the JCB sessions were underlined as central to TDR’s new strategy, which emphasizes that DECs should play a pivotal role in leading research and setting of research priorities. The role played by the Government of Brazil over the past 30 years in supporting research in the region of the Americas was cited as a model of how DEC countries have successfully taken such initiative.
WHO Assistant Director-General Dr Timothy Evans and JCB Chair Professor Rolf Korte, JCB representative of the Government of Germany, acknowledged Brazil’s leadership in advocating and investing in health research in their opening remarks to the JCB. Evans also noted how Brazil had played an active role in the recent deliberations of the WHO-convened Inter-Governmental Working Group on Public Health Innovation and Intellectual Property (IGWG), which concluded with WHO’s adoption of a Global Strategy and Plan of Action in May (WHA 61.21). Evans also pointed to the long history of collaboration between TDR and Brazilian research institutions. Dr Carlos Morel, a former president of Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), who also served as the TDR Director from 1998 to 2004, has played a central role in this special partnership, past and present, Evans emphasized.