New report shows highest ever funding for global health research – but gaps persist

30 Jan 2020

Many of you will have heard about the urgent need for new tools to prevent, diagnose and treat tuberculosis. We tend to talk about it quite a lot. Today, a brand new report charting investments into global health research and development (R&D) has been launched in Brussels, so we’re going to spend some time thinking about the bigger picture.

The G-Finder Report tracks funding for better tools against neglected diseases, which reached a new high of US $4 billion in 2018. This is great news, because the US $290 million increase since 2017 is both the largest real funding increase on record and the first time that funding has grown for three consecutive years.

Building momentum really matters. It means that countries are starting to recognise that without investing in R&D now, we won’t be able to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. TB is case and point – without new tools by 2025, the WHO says the world will simply not be able to end TB by 2030. The same applies to lots of other diseases, whether it's malaria, hepatitis or HIV. We have to move past the ‘either-or’ of health programmes versus research, and recognise that with a little bit of investment in research today, our programmes will be so much more impactful, person-centred and cost-effective tomorrow.

Infographic: From 2017 to 2018, the UK increased its funding for tools to fight neglected diseases by 16%.

If you are a long-time RESULTS grassroots campaigner, you will have probably taken a campaign action pushing the UK government to invest more in R&D. With almost two-thirds of funding for global health R&D coming from public sources, that makes sense, because even tiny fluctuations can have huge impact on what research gets funded, which products become available, and when. The good news is that your efforts have paid off; in 2018, the UK government invested US $230 million, which is almost 9.2% of all public funding for global health research.

Crucially, it’s not just about increasing investments in any particular disease or project. The G-Finder report shows the power of working together to increase the overall budget for global health R&D, whether it’s for basic science or product development partnerships like IAVI and FIND. It also shows that in order to foster innovation and drive impact, funding needs to be sustainable, facilitate global collaboration, and build patient-access into the design of every project.

"Sustained investments in R&D are needed to translate scientific discoveries into affordable, globally accessible public health solutions. This means investing across the development spectrum - from early stage research to implementation - to ensure successful roll-out of new products." Quote from and photo of Mark Feinberg, President & CEO, IAVI

In the UK, we are ready to make that case. The government recently committed to increase investments in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, and we’ve seen how public investments in R&D can deliver impact not only in low-income countries but also in our own NHS, such as with the GeneXpert diagnostic test for TB. So, let’s get to work.

 

A spotlight on IAVI

IAVI is a non-profit product development partnership dedicated to addressing urgent, unmet global health challenges. IAVI works with partners in Africa, India, Europe and the US to develop affordable, globally accessible public health solutions. IAVI was originally founded to find a new HIV vaccine but is now using its expertise and world-class infrastructure to work on more than just the HIV vaccine, including anti-venoms for snakebite and a new TB vaccine. IAVI proves why working together makes sense, and at RESULTS, we’re especially impressed with the amazing work it does engaging affected communities and civil society groups in their research. You can find out more about IAVI here.

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Janika Hauser

Senior Parliamentary Advocacy Officer (Tuberculosis)

Janika is the Senior Parliamentary Advocacy Officer for tuberculosis. She’s committed to ending TB by 2030, so hopes to be out of a job soon. Janika spends her days engaging parliamentarians with RESULTS’ work on TB. She also serves as the Policy Advisor to the All Party Parliamentary Group on...

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