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Centres, peripheries, academic colonization and `national science': the case of Peru

Date: Thursday 1 November 13.30–15.00
Source: Forum 11
Authors: Carlos F Caceres, Professor, Unit of Health, Sexuality and Human Development, School of Public Health, Cayetano Heredia University, Peru
with Walter Mendoza


The globalization process has raised new concerns regarding global health, among which are those related to the asymmetries of the north-south research relationship; particularly in relation to their distinct rationales, approaches and the social values attached to the research agenda implemented. Such discussions, particularly their ethical and political implications, constitute a new framework for analysis, from which new issues and evidence could be raised in order to advocate for health as a key development variable.

This presentation departs from a discussion of research in public health as a field with a rationale and specific goals, actors and roles (the state, academia). Subsequently, it reviews information on the characteristics of health research sponsored and implemented by the state and its agencies, and also by Peruvian academia. Particular attention is paid to funding sources, public-private cooperation mechanisms, the type of research conducted (basic or applied), including their relevance to national health priorities and policy-making, and the diffusion and use of publications. It continues to seek explanations for the particular status of health research in each setting, and to draw conclusions relating to the debate about centres and peripheries, and on locality vs. globalized research; including ethical review, ethical standards, and its relevance to addressing neglected diseases and the `10/90' research gap.

Finally, the presentation suggests specific avenues for change, stemming from new experiences of participatory, and public-private research collaboration, as well as the strengthening of regional health cooperation agreements involving Latin American countries. While most attention is given to the case of Peru, a significant part of the discussion applies to most of Latin America and more generally to countries in the global south.