Science and international development

Written evidence submitted by
ESSENCE on Health Research Initiative (Int Dev 19)

Key Points

· ESSENCE on Health Initiative is supportive of the Department for International Development (DFID)’s activities in the area capacity strengthening for health research.

· International research funders work in partnerships and bring complementary skills and experience. DFID proactively engages in partnerships with the UK and other international partnerships to increase the effectiveness of its investments and efforts.

ESSENCE on Health Research Initiative and the DFID

· In recent years the global health landscape has become crowded with new initiatives, leading to concerns that internationally-funded research projects may not match national priorities and sometimes may even inadvertently work against them. At the same time, multiple donors often fund the same project, with each one demanding different criteria for its evaluation process.

· ESSENCE on Health Research initiative is a collaborative framework that brings together funders of health research in Africa to share best practice, supported by a Secretariat the Special Programme on Research and Training for Tropical diseases (TDR) at the WHO.

· ESSENCE (Enhancing Support for Strengthening the Effectiveness of National Capacity Efforts) members embrace the principles of donor harmonization and alignment with country priorities. According to these principles, donors/funders should align with priorities of countries in which they work, and harmonize their actions and procedures in order to facilitate complementarity among funders and to reduce administrative overload for recipients of funding.

· ESSENCE on Health Initiative is open to a broad range of funders interested in collaboration, harmonization and better alignment with country needs. Some of the current members include the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID ), Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (Danida), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, FIOCRUZ Brazil, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development), EDCTP (European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership) and NIH/FIC (US National Institutes of Health/Fogarty International Center), Rockefeller Foundation and Canada's Global Health Research Initiative (GHRI).

· ESSENCE members embrace the strong agreement within the international development and research communities that funding should be aligned with national priorities. The initiative recognizes that successful research capacity also requires competencies in issues such as governance and management, strategic planning, evidence assessment, ethics and translation of evidence into policy.

· ESSENCE provides a platform for comparing different capacity strengthening models and mechanisms and compile accurate and up-to-date information about the different models which are already being used. ESSENCE is a unique partnerships which is attempting to strengthen coordination and promote best practice in relation to international development research, including capacity strengthening aspects.

· With its focus on health research, ESSENCE builds on the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action, which set standards for good practice in international aid.

· ESSENCE made its first major step with the development of a framework document that is designed to harmonize the planning, monitoring, and evaluation of international health research programmes. The document is designed to create a common methodology and common indicators that donors can use to assess their research capacity-building programmes. Another study under way is assessing the true cost of research in a low income setting and will help harmonize policies and practices of funding agencies.

· DFID is a full and active member of the initiative. It takes advantage of the platform to increase the effectiveness of the efforts and also bring a wealth of knowledge and experience that is quickly shared with other members of the initiative.

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ESSENCE on Health Research Initiative

16 December 2011

Prepared 22nd December 2011