The World Health Organization (WHO) is the lead technical agency in health matters, acting as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work. Today, WHO counts 194 Member States. WHO fulfills its objectives through six core functions, which include the shaping of the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge. WHO's roles and responsibilities in health research have recently been endorsed by the World Health Assembly. WHO utilizes its decentralized structure to implement its research efforts at global, regional and country level. To achieve its objectives related to research, WHO maintains effective collaboration with governmental and other research organizations throughout the world, as evidenced by the network of WHO Collaborating Centers. Covering programs on communicable and non-communicable diseases, endemic, epidemic as well as emerging health threats, WHO addresses a research portfolio with broad complementarity to the goals of NIH and many of its 27 centers and specialized institutes. Based on a track-record of fruitful collaboration between WHO and NIH, the objective of this application is to support a framework of enhanced collaboration in the area of biomedical research. Working towards shared goals of WHO and NIH, it is intended is to build on the respective strengths of both Organizations. In the field of biomedical research, NIH's more basic research emphasis combines with WHO's application oriented research efforts, and its support to research-related training efforts, the fostering of research-related resources, the dissemination of scientific knowledge and the assessment of health-related research and good practices. To implement the proposed collaborative effort, WHO relies on its very broad program experience, its experience as research sponsor, its ability to convene world-leading experts and manage transparent an independent consultation processes, its decentralized infrastructure comprising six regional offices and 146 country offices, and a continuous programmatic and financial commitment. Within the financial limits of this RFA, WHO proposes to conduct annual expert consultations on the assessment and application of novel and innovative biomedical research findings for the development of priority public health interventions in low and middle income countries. There is very significant room for expansion of collaborative activities in support of both institutions shared goals and objectives.
Enshrined in its Constitution, WHO has a role to promote and conduct research in the field of health WHO is engaged in health research in many ways, hereby assuming the role of research performer, research sponsor, convener and agenda-setting entity, broker, evaluator and translator of research results into public health application. In addition, WHO supports the development of research capacity in low income countries and the set-up of research networks between countries and regions. WHO has described its roles and responsibilities in health research in a strategy document, based on a comprehensive consultation process, and endorsed at the 63rd World Health Assembly (WHA) in 2010. It covers the full spectrum of research, which spans five generic areas of activity: measuring the problem;understanding its cause(s);elaborating solutions;translating the solutions or evidence into policy, practice and products;and evaluating the effectiveness of solutions. In addition WHO's position as a focus for global health R&D has recently been reaffirmed in the draft Resolution arising from a Member State meeting held in November 2012. The draft Resolution, which will be debated at the WHA in May 2013, requests the WHO to establish a global health R&D observatory within WHO's Secretariat in order to monitor and analyze relevant information on health R&D with a view to contributing to the identification of gaps and opportunities for health R&D and defining priorities in consultation with Member States. The strategy builds on WHO's core functions, which add value in support of global efforts in health research. WHO's strengths stem from its neutral status and independence, a broadest membership with currently 194 Member States an undisputed experience in international public health, a central role in health-related normative matters, a strong tradition and commitment to evidence based decision-making, its ability to convene and to establish and maintain networks of collaboration, both formal and informal, and an organizational set-up allowing to bridge between a central organization, regions and countries. Against this background and building on the principles of quality, impact and inclusiveness, WHO has defined in its roles and responsibilities in health research five interrelated goals: * Priorities - this concerns the reinforcement of research (at national, regional and global levels, and within WHO) in response to priority health needs; * Capacity - this relates to the provision of support to the strengthening of national systems for * health research; * Standards - this concerns the promotion of good practice in research, drawing on WHO's core function of setting norms and standards; * Translation - this involves the strengthening of links between the policy, practice and products of research; * A fifth objective relates to the research competency within WHO. Since the 1970s WHO has established and run a number of technical programs with research as their primary focus including the special program on Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP), and the special program on Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) sponsored jointly with UNESCO, UNDP and the World Bank. Building on this experience, another dedicated research program, the Initiative for Vaccine Research (IVR) was established in 2001 to create a unified entity in support of vaccine and vaccination research. In addition to these dedicated efforts many research activities are embedded into the disease control programs, underlining the policy-relevance and application-orientation of WHO's research work. Significant research activities are conducted in relation to child and adolescent health, HIV, TB, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and increasingly in the areas of health systems and services research, as well as non-communicable diseases (including cancer) and mental health. Based on a 2006/2007 survey (a more recent survey is in preparation), WHO spends 84% of its research expenditure on DALY type I diseases (communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional diseases), which represents 40% of the global DALY. 4% is allocated to DALY type II diseases (non-communicable diseases) which represent 48% of global DALY. This apparent imbalance is changing, but also reflects the emphasis of WHO's work on diseases that primarily affect the poor.
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