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Global health research is expanding. New global health institutions appear in the North, sometimes by relabelling existing entities. Global health journals have been born, and funding schemes with this focus have increased. However, there are insufficient local competencies for research in low-income countries.

This commentary, published in BMJ Global Health, aims to draw attention to the opportunity for capacity development within international collaboration for global health research. The authors illustrate this with examples of two collaborative projects in sub-Saharan Africa, where mutual capacity development was embedded as an integral part of the project.

The examples include the LSHTM co-led Dagu project in Ethiopia, as well as case study which focuses on embedded research capacity development within a programme addressing neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the Central African Region.

The authors highlight that there are only a few global health funders who systematically allocate resources to research capacity development. Power relations between collaborating partners from the Global North and Global South continue to lead to unfair ownership of data, unfair authorship and other problems.

The commentary concludes by proposing that research capacity development be valued as highly as the generation of new scientific knowledge—by the academicians and universities in the Global South and Global North, by global health research funders and by governments.

Watch a recorded interactive panel discussion, which took place on the 19th of May 2021 entitled “Embedding capacity development in all global health research”.


Profile picture of Dr Della Berhanu
Dr Della Berhanu

Assistant Professor

Yemisrach Okwaraji

Research Fellow

Professor Lars Åke Persson

Professor of Public Health Evaluation

Profile picture of Professor Joanna Schellenberg
Professor Joanna Schellenberg

IDEAS Co-Principal Investigator and Professor