More than money: strong research capacity can back Germany’s political engagement in global health

GLOHRA study shows how the research community can contribute to the federal Global Health Strategy

Germany’s national as well as international health funding have significantly increased in recent years, making Germany the largest donor of the World Health Organization (WHO) with a contribution of €~850 bn in 2020-21. The GLOHRA Engaged study suggests that Germany could boost the impact of its engagement by fully capitalizing on and further strengthening its global health research and innovation capacity and ecosystem.

The “GLOHRA Engaged” study project was initiated by the German Alliance for Global Health Research (GLOHRA) in June 2021, calling on experts from the global health community to weigh in on how to make a tangible contribution to the German Global Health Strategy. The recently published study report focuses on four major themes: global health research funding models, collaboration, implementation and research-policy dialogue. It offers guidance on how Germany can better harness the expertise of its global health research community and provides actionable recommendations for key decision makers in policy and research to maximize Germany’s impact in global health. The full study is available at globalhealth.de/media.

A first study finding is that although Germany’s national health R&D funding significantly increased over the past years to €~3.3 bn in 2021, only a small funding share of 200m € (~2%) is clearly labelled as global health. A first step to increasing the impact of Germany’s global health R&D is to gain transparency and visibility regarding the true size of its investment in this field. Further, researchers call for longer-term and more flexible grants.

A second finding is that global health research expertise in Germany is widely spread across universities and non-university research institutions, where promising and established academic career paths are still mostly reserved for single disciplines. Strong institutional support, especially at universities, is vital for interdisciplinary global health research. Reducing barriers for collaboration, also internationally i.e. in the form of institutionalized Global South partnerships, is essential for bringing the best minds together on global health. Research networks can act as catalysts for exchange, but need to be equipped with sufficient funding.

The final findings pertain to the implementation and translation of global health R&D. Effective global health implementation requires fostering entrepreneurial approaches and would benefit from stronger ties to international development. Additionally, by developing institutionalized exchange across relevant government bodies and structured dialogue formats, researchers could maximize their potential for sharing state-of-the-art knowledge at the political level. New multilateral initiatives also provide political and scientific leadership opportunities for Germany to shape the global health agenda.

 

GLOHRA Engaged Study Report  Executive Summary (EN/DE) Press Release (EN/DE)