|Dr. Roses' Opening Remarks at the PAHO consultation meeting on WHO Research Strategy|
Washington, D.C. HQ.
February 7, 2008.
Dr. Tikki Pang, members of his team, colleagues from PAHO/WHO country offices, research centers and HQ staff. It is an honor to welcome you all to PAHO's home, the regional office of WHO and health agency of the inter-American integration system.
I would like to thank you all for participating in this workshop. The World Health Organization's effort to develop a health research policy is now well underway.
The Ministerial Summit on Health Research in Mexico sent out a clear call for improving health research.
The definition of a health research strategy will provide a critical tool for managing and organizing research activities within WHO and its regional offices. It should also guide and support member states in organizing health research.
The governments of the Americas have made research a regional priority as stated in the health agenda for the Americas. PAHO is responding to this call for action by drafting its own health research policy.
Harmonizing WHO's vision with national, regional and organizational stakeholders' needs is a crucial step in the development of a successful strategy. The broad consultation process undertaken by WHO under Dr. Pang's leadership will allow PAHO to actively contribute to the process and ensure that the policy will contemplate the necessary elements to advance health research in the Americas.
Health research should not be a luxury for wealthy countries. It should be a tool to help reduce health inequities and improve public health in low and middle-income countries as well.
There are many challenges to build and improve health research systems throughout the Region. PAHO /WHO should play a leadership role both through advocacy and technical cooperation. It should ensure that the Americas is an active participant of the global research community while answering to national priorities and complying with the highest bioethical standards.
We should decide what the important questions are and be realistic as to the answers research can provide. We should try to decide on research priorities that will help narrow the knowledge gap on what works best in public health and help inform policy making. The ultimate goal of health research is to save lives and improve living standards.
In many cases the answers will come from the traditional areas of health research. More often, we will need to promote links with other sectors such as the social, environmental and economic sciences.
At the same time, we should keep in mind that research might be in itself a tool for development by helping countries build capacities.
I thank you all for participating in this activity. Through our strong and ongoing dialogue, we can enrich this process to help develop a comprehensive health research policy that will reflect our regional needs and serve member states.
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