Investment in health research in developing countries still accounts for only a small fraction of the global total in spite of a sharp rise in global funding, an international health official said at an ongoing global forum in Beijing on Monday.
About 125 billion U.S. dollars is being spent each year on health research, a four-fold increase over the past 20 years, said Stephen Matlin, the executive director of the 11th Global Forum for Health research.
But he said only ten percent of the global health research funding is spent on dealing with health problems in developing nations, which have 90 percent of the world's population.
The pattern of the major health threats in developing countries has changed, he said, with diseases such as cancer, diabetes and strokes becoming more serious threats in addition to malaria and tuberculosis.
However, health research that produces solutions requiring expensive drugs and sophisticated technology would only have limited applicability in poorer countries, he said.
He said that the global forum will help invest more in developing countries and try to realize the Millennium Development Goals.
The Millenium Development Goals are a series of social and economic targets formulated by the United Nations that aim to halve extreme poverty by 2015.
Matlin stressed that developing countries need to develop more strong and robust health systems to deal with the health problems of growing populations.
To achieve that, more public health exchanges and cooperation are needed to improve the situation, and developed countries should provide technical assistance and funding for developing countries, said Chen Zhu, China's Minister of Health.
The minister said that China is trying to increase investment in health care but he admitted that "China still suffers from wide disparities in allocation of health resources."
World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said that advances in healthcare must keep the poor in mind.
"If we want healthcare to reduce poverty, we cannot allow the cost of care to drive impoverished households even deeper into poverty," she said.
The 11th Global Forum for Health research, which is scheduled from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2, has attracted more than 800 officials, scholars and scientists from more than 80 countries and regions. The Geneva-based Global Forum for Health Research is aimed at helping developing countries to improve their healthcare.