“Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective tools for saving lives,” states the prime minister, who also sees it as a key task to ensure that the vaccines are made available to those who need them most.
Research programme to be extended
It has been decided that the Research Council of Norway’s Programme for Global Health and Vaccination Research (GLOBVAC) will be extended until 2020. During the 2012-2020 period NOK 500 million will be allocated to projects under the programme.
“The GLOBVAC programme seeks to support research that can promote better health among the poorest segments of the population in low and middle-income countries,” states Peter Smith, Professor of Tropical Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and new chair of the GLOBVAC programme board.
The programme has become a key instrument for funding research conducted by Norwegian researchers and their international partners in this field.
Great need – not enough research
Kårstein Måseide, programme coordinator for the GLOBVAC programme, is delighted that the programme is being extended.
“This gives us a chance to think long-term,” he says. “It is important to be able to develop sustainable research capacity in the field of global health in Norway, in cooperation with international partners.”
Viewed in relation to the level of need, very little research is being conducted on health problems in developing countries. In Mr Måseide’s view the GLOBVAC programme should focus on a number of clear priority areas: “There is a pressing need to develop new and better vaccines. We also need to strengthen health system research and implementation research, and will provide funding for research on how various health measures should be implemented. This can provide important input for improving practical routines and enhancing the health of the population,” states Mr Måseide.
“We are also interested in supporting innovation projects aimed at developing new, cheap technologies that are suitable for use in developing countries,” he adds.
Capacity building on the agenda
Capacity building in low and middle-income countries is one of the GLOBVAC programme’s key areas of focus. It was the theme of the GLOBVAC programme’s annual conference, which was held on 12 -13 September and was organised this year in cooperation with the Norwegian Medical Association (NMA).
Some 230 participants from 15 countries met to discuss what Norwegian and international research groups could do to strengthen research competence in the field of global health.
One of the speakers was Professor Francis Omaswa, Executive Director of the African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST) in Uganda, who is particularly concerned with developing better capacity in the field of health research and the health services in African countries.
“In many African countries there are barriers in the bureaucracy or health sector that prevent health personnel from carrying out their profession as they have been trained to do. There may be cultural, religious, social or economic factors at play that mean that health service provision is not optimal. More knowledge is needed about how these barriers function,” Professor Omaswa pointed out.
First call for proposals in the new programme period
During the period 2012-2020 the GLOBVAC programme will allocate approximately NOK 61 million per year in funding. Eligible applicants will be public and private Norwegian research institutions. International collaboration will be encouraged, including partnerships with research groups and institutions in low and middle-income countries.
Approximately NOK 160 million in funding will be made available under the first call for proposals issued in the new programme period. Potential applicants are required to submit a mandatory project outline by 30 November, and the deadline for submission of complete applications is 18 April 2012. The calls for proposals for both phases will be published on the website of the Research Council of Norway and also on the webpages of the GLOBVAC programme.
“We have chosen to ask potential applicants to submit project outlines in order to save them time and effort. All those who send in a project outline will be notified as to the relevance of their project for the final call. On the basis of this they can decide whether they wish to submit a complete application or not,” explains Professor Smith.
The call for proposals will encompass the entire field of global health research, with priority given to projects in the field of vaccination research, research on health systems, health policy, technology and implementation research and research on infectious diseases.