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Well-defined policies and priorities for health research are recognised as being essential to sustainable development.

In this article, published in Cadernos de Saúde Pública, Reinaldo Guimarães and colleagues describe the approach taken by Brazil.

In 2003, Brazil's National Health Council proposed 20 'sub-agendas' relating to different aspects of urgent health research. The following year, Brazil's national policy on science, technology, and innovation in health was approved at a conference, whose preparatory phase involved 15,000 participants.

The national policy and research priorities are currently guiding the Ministry of Health's investments in research and development. From 2003 to 2005, the ministry made 24 calls for funding proposals. Nearly 4,000 research projects were submitted and 1,300 have been funded.

The authors say Brazil succeeded in defining research policies and priorities within three years because of strong social participation and adequate political and financial support.

The remaining challenge is to make these initial steps permanent and sustainable, they conclude.

Link to full article in Cadernos de Saúde Pública

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