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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


MACEIRA, Daniel et al. Public financing of health research in five Latin American countries. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2010, vol.27, n.6, pp.442-451. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVES: Describe the public subsystems of the national health research systems (SNIS) in five Latin American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay), emphasizing the types of institutional arrangements in place in each country to promote, develop, and sustain their SNIS, as well as explicit or implicit mechanisms for prioritizing health research projects. METHODS: The bodies responsible for managing the public resources allocated to finance health research projects in the five countries studied were identified. The types of projects financed were then analyzed-using a matrix constructed by area and object of study-, certain characteristics of the principal investigators, and the sums allocated between 2002 and 2006. RESULTS: Only the countries with greater resources or better developed networks of investigators have formal structures for allocating funds with regular calls for proposals and fixed rules. None of them has explicit comprehensive mechanisms for prioritizing health research. Moreover, the health research priorities in the countries vary widely. In this regard, it is significant that problems such as "nutrition and the environment" or "violence and accidents" receive little attention in most countries. The same holds true for a number of public health issues in some countries. In contrast, the research in the "hard sciences" absorbs up to one-third of the total resources for research. CONCLUSIONS: Many questions arise about the ability of these countries to adapt and generate new knowledge, as well as the nearly nonexistent research on social, economic, and cultural determinants, or on health services and systems that have a high impact on groups with limited access to health care. Explicit priorities should be set with stakeholders for the health research agenda, and mechanisms should be adopted for monitoring and following up health research financing by subject and area of study.

Keywords : National science, technology and innovation policy; health sciences, technology and innovation management; research financing systems; support of research; Latin America; Argentina; Bolivia; Chile; Paraguay; Uruguay.

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