Science for Local Needs?

Countries are unlikely to solve a particular problem unless they have some level of research invested in the effort. The approach in this paper is to use malaria research as a proxy for effective exploitation of local scientific knowledge. We study the malaria-related research output in two countries, Brazil and India, with among the most advanced science and pharmaceutical capabilities in the developing world. We assess local relevance of science and also its integration with international research by looking at almost 60 years of scientific publications on malaria between 1945-2003. While scientific publications are only one measure of scientific output, they are an important one. This research confirms previous findings of underrepresentation of developing countries in international science and its databases. In addition, we use a variety of indicators to demonstrate that while both countries together show substantial scientific output relative to their combined global share of malaria incidence, each shows low local relevance of malaria-related science using country and journal comparisons, relatively low rates of increase in published outputs and insignificant private sector effort. Finally, both show practically no collaboration with each other, while each is more likely to collaborate with a few advanced industrialised countries. The findings raise questions for both national and international scientific programs aimed at stimulating research for malaria and other neglected diseases.

Source: Science, Technology and Globalization Project (STG) Working Paper, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, June 2004

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