Trade, foreign policy, diplomacy and health

5. Genomics Knowledge

Halla Thorsteinsdottir, Abdallah S Daar, Richard D Smith, Peter A Singer

2. Facilitating research

  • More research must be conducted in health problems of developing world
  • Research infrastructure ‘access goods’ integral and initiatives required to provide developing countries with these
  • Innovative partnerships and networks key to gaining access to necessary knowledge
  • ncentives required to encourage private sector to develop and manufacture genomics products for developing countries

For genomics to have a global presence and develop solutions to worldwide health problems, more research has to be conducted in to the health problems of the developing world. Access goods are integral as health research requires research infrastructure that is often beyond the means of many developing countries. Initiatives to provide developing countries with private goods for R&D in genomics will thus contribute towards strengthening genomics as a public good.

The UNDP recommended that emphasis be placed on creating innovative partnerships and new incentives for research and development as a strategy to make new technologies work for human development. To develop innovative ideas and applications, different types of knowledge are required. Networks and partnerships are the keys to gaining access to this necessary knowledge and can be seen to be 'access goods' for the development of science and technology. The collaborations need to be between very different types of actors, from the universities and public research system, to the private sector and government. Close co-ordination of these actors is called for within regions and nations, but international collaboration is also of paramount importance for any new developments in genomics.

Private sector involvement is increasingly required for development of new technologies. As the private sector in most developing countries is underdeveloped, incentives are required to encourage its formation. This could, for example, involve tax incentives to firms for the development and manufacture of genomics products. Intellectual property legislation could also be modified to encourage companies to find profits from products for high volume, low margin, markets in the developing world.