Universal health coverage (UHC), a commitment of the World Health and United Nations General Assemblies, will never be achieved while research and development in low- and middle-income countries remains under-resourced.
That’s a key message of a blog co-authored by Burnet Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC, and Deputy Director Professor Mike Toole AM, for the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID).
As part of ACFID’s Australia: Ahead of the Curve series, leaders in their fields were invited to express bold ideas on Australia’s role in assisting developing countries and responding to global development challenges to 2025 and beyond.
Professors Crabb and Toole focused on the importance of research and the urgent need for its application, along with the gathering of robust evidence and use of effective tools, in regions where the burden of disease is heaviest.
“While more people have access to essential health services today than at any other time in history, global coverage remains inadequate,” the authors wrote.
“Progress in generating research evidence to support UHC has been uneven, and low-income countries have yet to see a significant increase in research production.
“Currently, a mere 10 percent of health policy and systems research globally is conducted on low- and middle-income countries.
“There has been inadequate investment in the development and production of drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic agents for communicable diseases that cause a major disease burden among the poorest people in the world.
“For example, the standard prevention and treatment of tuberculosis in low and middle income countries employs a not very effective vaccine developed in 1921, a diagnostic procedure developed in 1895, and drugs that were developed in the 1950s and 1960s.”
Professors Crabb and Toole tracked recent trends in Australia’s aid program, and argued that a failure to embed research in development programs may represent a major missed opportunity because it is often more cost-effective than stand-alone research.
To read the blog in full visit the ACFID website.