WHO’s role and responsibilities in health research
WHO strategy on research for health
Report by the Secretariat
1. High-quality research and evidence are critical for improving global health and health equity,
and for the achievement by WHO of its objective, namely, the attainment by all peoples of the highest
possible level of health.
2. At a time when there are many competing demands on limited resources, it is especially
important for policies and practices in support of health to be grounded in the best scientific
3. Research is central to economic development and global health security and it is increasingly
recognized that, in order to be effective, research has to be multidisciplinary and intersectoral in
nature. In the face of current and emerging health threats – such as those posed by pandemics, chronic
diseases, food insecurity, the impact on health of climate change, and fragile health systems – the
Secretariat, Member States and the Organization’s partners have a joint responsibility to ensure that
research and evidence help to achieve health-related development goals and improve health outcomes.
An approach that involves all government departments should therefore be adopted so that health is
reflected in all government policies.
4. In response to resolution WHA58.34 on the Ministerial Summit on Health Research, the
Secretariat prepared a position paper describing WHO’s role and responsibilities in health research,
which was discussed by ACHR at its forty-fifth session.1 A report that contained the main points of the
position paper was submitted to the Sixtieth World Health Assembly, in May 2007.2 The Health
Assembly subsequently adopted resolution WHA60.15, in which the Director-General was requested
to submit to the Sixty-second World Health Assembly a strategy for the management and organization
of research activities within WHO, and to convene a ministerial conference on health research in
Bamako, in November 2008.