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AFRO-NETS> Global Forum for Health Research - Request for Proposals

  • Subject: AFRO-NETS> Global Forum for Health Research - Request for Proposals
  • From: Veloshnee Govender <govenderv@who.int>
  • Date: Sat, 21 Jun 2003 10:55:02 -0400 (EDT)

Global Forum for Health Research - Request for Proposals

Mental, Neurological and Behavioural Health and Disorders:
Mapping of Research Activities in Low- and Middle-income Countries

1 Global Forum for Health Research

Health research is essential to improve the design of health inter-
ventions, policies and service delivery. Every year more than US$70
billion is spent on health research and development by the public and
private sectors. An estimated 10% of this is used for research into
90% of the world's health problems. This is what is called 'the 10/90

The Global Forum for Health Research is an independent international
foundation established in 1998 in Geneva, Switzerland. Its central
objective is to help correct the 10/90 gap in health research and fo-
cus research efforts on the health problems of the poor by bringing
together key actors and creating a movement for analysis and debate
on health research priorities, the allocation of resources, public-
private partnerships and access of all people to the outcomes of
health research.

The Global Forum is supported financially by the Rockefeller Founda-
tion, World Bank, World Health Organization and the governments of
Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

The Global Forum supports networks in health research bringing to-
gether a wide range of partners in a concerted effort to find solu-
tions to priority health problems.

2 Background

Mental illnesses and neurological disorders constitute a significant
burden to individuals, families and societies. These disorders attack
the intrinsic human abilities to think, feel, communicate and move
and they erode human productivity in the work place and overall in

In 2001, mental health and neurological disorders ranked high on the
international health agenda. World Health Day 2001 was entitled ?Men-
tal Health: Stop Exclusion, Dare to Care?. In addition, four round-
table discussions at the World Health Assembly in May 2001 were dedi-
cated to mental health. In the same year were published three impor-
tant reports, which drew further attention to mental health and neu-
rological disorders: (a) The World Health Report 2001, which focused
on mental health and nervous system disorders; (b) Neurological, Psy-
chiatric and Developmental Disorders: Meeting the Challenge in the
Developing World published under the auspices of the Institute of
Medicine (IOM), Academy of Sciences, USA; (c) the WHO Atlas Project,
which focused on mental health resources in the world.

WHO's landmark Project Atlas study on the mental health resources
within 185 countries published the following statistics:

* Almost 41% of countries do not have a policy on mental health.

* Some 37% of countries do not have mental health community care fa-

* More than 25% of countries do not have access to basic psychiatric
medication at the primary care level, despite the development of new
generation drugs. This only serves to increase the treatment gap be-
tween developed and developing countries.

* Within countries, the groups bearing the brunt of the mental and
neurological disease burden are the poor and women. These groups tend
to face an array of social, financial and geographical barriers, in-
cluding that of stigma and discrimination, which hamper their access
to preventive, treatment and rehabilitative services.

As a response to the vast need identified in these reports, WHO pro-
posed, in 2002, the Mental Health Global Action Programme (mhGAP)
which is increasingly recognized as the blueprint for international
action in the fields of mental, neurological and behavioural health.
An important conclusion of all these discussions and reports is the
urgent need for research to be undertaken in and by low- and middle-
income countries, and be directed to their special needs. The 2001
World Health Report estimated that mental and neurological disorders
are responsible for 13% of the world?s DALYs, a figure that is set to
increase. A further third of the global disease burden is due to be-
haviour-related disorders. Nevertheless, this continues to be a ne-
glected area within public health.

3 Purpose of the Request for Proposals

Currently, the capacity of low- and middle-income countries to con-
duct research in the fields of mental, neurological and behavioural
health is very limited indeed. An important first step towards im-
proving the research capacity of these countries is the systematic
assessment, at the regional level, of the current research situation
in the fields identified. More specifically, the identification of
research capacity in Africa, Asia and Latin America is urgently
needed. This Request for Proposal (RFP) seeks to identify the groups
who will undertake the following:

* Mapping of the actors (individual researchers, organizations, do-
nors, universities, groups, networks) and their roles in the fields
of mental, neurological, and behavioural health research

* Identification of current research agendas and the process for
identifying research priorities with respect to programmes and ac-
tivities in these fields.

* Analysis of the factors that impact on the utilization of research
results with respect to policy and programme formulation in one or
more of the fields of investigation.

The combination of the map of actors and the research agendas at the
regional level (Africa, Asia and Latin America) will be called a "Re-
gional Profile." In responding to this RFP, applicants are required
to compile a regional profile with respect to any one or a combina-
tion of the following fields:

Mental health: where mental health, as defined by WHO includes sub-
jective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence,
intergenerational dependence and self-actualization of one's intel-
lectual and emotional potential, among others. This definition ex-
tends beyond a lack of mental disorders. The goal of mental health
research is the promotion of mental health and to prevent and reduce
the burden of mental illnesses. Core areas of research include basic,
clinical and community mental health research.

Neurological sciences: where neurological sciences is a branch of
medical science that deals with causes, prevention, diagnosis and
treatment of neurological disorders. The goal of neurological sci-
ences research is to quantify, study and subsequently reduce the bur-
den of neurological disease. Core areas of research include basic and
clinical neurological science research.

Behavioural health: where behavioural health is a sub-speciality
within behavioural medicine concerned with health-promoting behaviour
and disease prevention. There is emphasis within this approach on
fostering programmes of prevention in which individuals assume re-
sponsibility for their own health through improved lifestyles and de-
creasing health risk behaviour. The focus is on health maintenance,
health enhancement and disease prevention, i.e. helping people to
stay healthy and to accept individual responsibility for their own
health. Behavioural health research includes basic and clinical sci-
ence and community mental health research.
The Profiles will help to clarify the importance and the potential of
mental, neurological and behavioural health research in low- and mid-
dle-income countries.

4 Objectives of the Regional Profiles

To describe the importance of and the value given to research in one
or more of the fields (mental, neurological and behavioural health)
from a historical context and in terms of the potential benefits to
societies in low- and middle-income countries in the future. Progress
made in the improvement of people?s mental, neurological and behav-
ioural health respectively should be reviewed and the critical role
of research in initiating, underpinning and motivating this progress
should be stressed. Where appropriate, examples of research achieve-
ments leading to improved health outcomes should be highlighted. Par-
ticular emphasis should be laid on neglected, vulnerable and under-
privileged segments of societies, such as the poor, women or minority

To map actors in research: Researchers, non-governmental organiza-
tions, academic centres, private foundations and research-funding in-
stitutions working in one or more of the fields of interest (mental,
neurological and behavioural health) will be identified and their
contact names and details will be furnished.

To describe the research priority selection process and research
agenda of actors: The process through which research priorities were
identified by institutions should be described, as well as the extent
to which the elements of burden of disease, cost effectiveness and
determinant analyses guided this processed. In addition their current
research agendas should be described and research gaps considered ur-
gent in one or more of the fields of mental, neurological and behav-
ioural health research should be identified.

To review aspects of research to policy: A systematic review and
analysis of the factors which impact on the utilization of research
results with respect to policy and programme formulation in one or
more of the fields is required. Recommendations for addressing these
challenges and which focus specifically on strengthening the link be-
tween research and policy should be provided.
5 Features of the application

This request for proposals has identified three fields of interest
(mental, neurological and behavioural health) and three regions for
investigation (Asia, Africa and Latin America). In responding to this
request, applicants are requested to develop a Regional Profile of
key role players and a research agenda in one or more of the fields
of interest.

The applicants should specify methods that will be used to ensure
that each of the corresponding reports will:

* Be based on a systematic and exhaustive review of the evidence at
the regional level (Asia, Africa and Latin America)
* Include a diversity of stakeholders
* Reflect a multidisciplinary research orientation
* Be sensitive to gender issues.

6 Eligibility

Institutions, research groups and individual scientists from low- and
middle-income countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America are eligi-
ble to apply for one of the three grants. Low- and middle- income
county institutions and researchers may apply alone, jointly or in
collaboration with institutions in high-income countries. The col-
laborating institutions/individuals from high-income countries cannot
be principal investigators.

7 Schedule of work

The deadline for submission of proposals is 31 August 2003. Results
of the request for proposals will be announced by 30 November 2003.
It is expected that all projects funded under this grant will be com-
pleted 18 months after initiation.

8 Review criteria

Proposals will be reviewed by a selection committee comprised of
technical experts. The essential criteria are:

* Demonstrated knowledge of the field (mental, neurological and/or
behavioural health) selected for investigation.
* Demonstrated understanding of the scope and intent of the project
* Experience (individual or group applicant) in the conduct of re-
search in the specified fields and in research management.
* Existence or ability to establish a multidisciplinary group with
complimentary skills necessary for carrying out the required tasks.
* Thoughtful and complete plan for the execution of the required
tasks and design of a reasonable and practical process to complete
the work on a timely basis.
* Ability to meet deadlines and organize a complex effort with
clearly defined deliverables.
* Access to necessary tools and support services.
* Demonstrated support from associated institutions.

9 Grants

Investigators should demonstrate an understanding and possess the
necessary skills to undertake a rigorous analysis of both published
and unpublished data, and should justify the relevance of this analy-
sis. A total of US$75,000 will be available for this research and it
is anticipated that between three and four proposals will be selected
and funded.

10 Application process

Proposals must be written in English. The deadline for submission is
31 August 2003. Applicants are requested to send in a proposal of no
more than 10 pages including an executive summary (excluding appendi-
ces which should also not exceed 10 additional pages) covering the
following sections:

Letter of intent (detailing mailing and email address)

In the 10-page proposal:

1. Executive summary
2. Background
3. Purpose/goal of the project
4. Specific objectives
5. Methods/strategies to be used
6. Expected results and deliverables
7. Time lines (this study should not exceed 18 months)
8. Estimated budget
9. Résumé of the principal investigator and core investigators (as
part of the appendices)

Proposals should be sent if possible by e-mail as attachments to a
cover letter. Proposals may also be posted if email is difficult.
Faxes will not be accepted.

Proposals should be received by 31 August 2003 at the latest by the
Global Forum for Health Research
Attn. Veloshnee Govender
c/o WHO
20 avenue Appia
1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland
Tel: +41-22-791-4463
Fax: +41-22-791-4394
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