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Analysis of a sectorial fund in health and social security research after four years of operations: is Mexico's research funding policy adequate?

Date: Poster sessions
Source: Forum 11
Authors: Francisco Becerra-Posada, Director, Academic Agreement and Dissemination, Health Research Policy Directorate, Coordination of National Institutes of Health and High Specialty Hospitals, Ministry of Health, Mexico
with Rafael Romero and Israel Mejía

Abstract

The objective of this study was to analyse projects funded by the Health and Social Security Sectorial Fund (FOSISS) in Mexico, including assessment of the type of research funded and the percentage of funds devoted to health systems research (HSR), as well as the distribution among different institutions, during the period 2002­2006. The results should help the fund secretariat to re-orient funding policies.

Mexico experienced a series of major changes in health research and in science and technology policies in the period 2000­2006. One of the key innovations was the creation of sectorial funds.

At the Health Research Summit/Forum 8 held in Mexico in 2004, both the Global Forum for Health Research and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that funds for health systems research (HSR) should be increased, among other measures directed towards strengthening health research systems in low- and middle-income countries.

FOSISS launched its first call for funding applications at the end of 2002. This Fund receives money from the three main health institutions in Mexico, which is then matched by the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT). By November 2006, FOSISS had made nine calls for applications; overall 2513 applications had been received, and of these 433 were selected for financing. The overall funds committed to health research by FOSISS for the period were US$ 62.3 million. Of these, HSR received US$ 4.8 million (8.1%), while chronic diseases/cancer/ life style received US$ 18 million (29.8%), infectious-emerging diseases got US$ 12.2 million (20.2%), evaluation/development of biotechnology received US$ 7.5 million (12.4%), nutrition/obesity US$ 5.8 million (9.2%), psychiatry/mental health/addictions US$ 4 million (6.6%). Ministry of Health institutions successfully funded 195 projects, while Mexican Social Security (IMSS) funded 108, and the National University 23.

Mexico is funding a good proportion of FOSISS' budget towards HSR, though there are areas that have been under-financed (e.g. ageing, accidents and ethics).

Implications: Funding policy should improve through recommending: devoting specific percentages of funds to relevant yet under-funded areas; involving Ministry of Health decision-makers and other institutions in framing research questions and calling for proposals with a practical orientation; creating a special sub-fund for young researchers and for community-based research; and re-designing the evaluation committee to be more inclusive of social and HSR experts.