The evaluation emphasises that this is a young and highly important field in need of continued support to ensure that the research expertise acquired can remain intact.
“The evaluation shows that the GLOBVAC programme has been a success so far,” states Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council of Norway. “Norwegian research in global health has truly distinguished itself internationally in recent years. One example is the successful testing of a vaccine against the Ebola virus.”
The evaluation has been carried out by Technopolis Group. The evaluation report states that the GLOBVAC programme has filled a gap in the Norwegian funding landscape. It goes on to say that the GLOBVAC programme has achieved important results in several research fields and has been instrumental in expanding the research community for global health and vaccination research in Norway.
Building dynamic research groups
Prior to the launch of the programme in 2006, there was little global health and vaccination research being carried out in Norway. The number of research groups and institutes now involved in this field has increased markedly over the past ten years as a result of GLOBVAC funding.
“The scientific quality of the research funded under the programme was rated as very good, with relevant links to researchers at leading institutions in the US, Europe and, not least, in low and lower-middle income countries. Several of the projects have gained significant international recognition,” Mr Hallén states.
An uncertain future
Allocations from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for research on development in developing countries have been cut by half since 2013. This also entails uncertainty regarding further funding for the GLOBVAC programme.
“The report points out that the funding base must be maintained to ensure that the research groups in which considerable resources have been invested can remain intact. We hope that continued funding for the GLOBVAC programme will be clarified soon, so that we can draw up effective plans for the remainder of the programme period, which runs to 2020,” the Director General says.
“Until this is clarified it will not be possible to issue any more funding announcements under the programme,” he continues. “And that poses a serious problem for the research groups. We strongly encourage the political leaders in charge of allocations to continue this successful programme with the same amount of funding as previously.”
The evaluation also points out that there is room for improvement in certain areas. There are signs, for example, that the programme may have been overambitious with regard to capacity-building efforts in the South and new approaches should be considered. One recommendation is to link the GLOBVAC programme more closely to capacity-building initiatives outside the programme.
Facts about the GLOBVAC programme
Each year, the GLOBVAC research programme awards approximately NOK 122 million in funding to research seeking to improve health for poor people in low and lower-middle income countries. NOK 112 million is allocated from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and NOK 10 million from the Ministry of Health and Care Services. The programme was launched in 2006 and is planned to continue until 2020.
The GLOBVAC programme’s activities address global health challenges broadly and the programme prioritises projects within vaccination and vaccination research; family planning; reproductive health and child growth and development; health systems and health policy research; technology and methods development; and implementation research.
One unique feature of the GLOBVAC programme is that most of the projects involve partners from low or lower-middle income countries and require that the project owner is a Norwegian institution. The projects have an international scope and tend to be highly complex. Most projects have partners from 3–4 countries and fieldwork often takes place under difficult circumstances in low-income countries.
The GLOBVAC programme has been a catalyst for the development of a dynamic research community in global health in Norway. Among other things, the initiative had contributed to the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for research on maternal and child health hosted by the University of Bergen.