Research has generated life-saving vaccines, drug and diagnostic tools that can reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and fight AIDS, shortfalls in health systems and disparities in health care delivery systems. But these life-saving tools are not available to people in all parts of the world. Many countries have inadequate health care financing, shortages of doctors and nurses and insufficient health care information.
Working to solve that problem was the mission of the Ministerial Summit on Health Research held November 16 to 20 in Mexico City, Mexico. The Summit was convened by the World Health Organization and the government of Mexico. Twenty-nine ministers of health and 29 other national delegations attended. Adnan Hyder, MD, MPH, PhD, from the Department of International Health, was one of the 150 experts from around the world also in attendance, and the only representative from Johns Hopkins.
The Summit focused on bridging the gap between research and policy—knowledge and action—in the improvement of the health of populations. The Summit worked to develop a priority agenda for research on health systems issues, specific initiatives to strengthen health systems and ways that research could more effectively inform policy making. The recommendations of the Summit were synthesized into a document called the “Mexico Agenda for Change,” to be presented to the WHO Executive Board in 2005.
During the summit, Hyder coordinated a session with Professor Anne Mills of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on “Health Policy and Systems Research: Challenges and Opportunities” and organized a special session for South Asian ministers. Hyder also participated in a session called “Road Traffic Injuries: A Global Epidemic” at the 8th Annual meeting of the Global Forum for Health Research, which was being held at the same time in Mexico City.
A network of high-level decision makers will meet regularly after the Summit. The Summit plans to meet every four years.--Kristi Birch