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Increased focus on implementation needed

November/December 2010 | Volume 9, Issue 6

More attention should be devoted to strengthening health systems in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), according to global health experts who gathered recently in Montreux, Switzerland. The three-day meeting, sponsored by the WHO, focused on health systems research and universal health coverage and included keynote speeches from global health luminaries Dr. Julio Frenk, dean of Harvard’s school of public health and Dr. Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation.

There is growing awareness among healthcare providers and policymakers regarding the need to increase capacity of developing world health systems and apply evidence throughout the policy process. Meeting participants also discussed how monitoring of health coverage policies in middle-income countries can help to better target vulnerable populations and make corrections mid-course.

Implementation research plays an important role in helping global health funding organizations realize their goals, Dr. Linda Kupfer, acting director of Fogarty's policy division, told the group. She also made the case for a more uniform nomenclature of implementation science. Kupfer and a study team contributed a chapter on the topic to a WHO publication released at the meeting.

Having a standard definition would make it easier for organizations to promote the advancement of the science and to allocate resources to this sector of health research, they believe. "Donors are considering a wide range of options to fund research and research capacity strengthening that will no doubt contribute to make their health development investments more effective and sustainable."

The paper, titled "Implementation Research for the Control of Infectious Diseases of Poverty," advocates for research capacity building to be linked to larger global health programs and initiatives, giving it more prominence and scaling up the field worldwide.

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