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[BEIJING] Aid organisations can help health-research results reach local communities in the developing world, says the head of a major development agency.

Walter Fust, director-general of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), made the point yesterday (1 November) at a plenary session of Forum 11, the annual meeting of the Global Forum for Health Research.

Fust said that the inequality in applying and accessing health research has become "a critical bottleneck."

"When doing research, we should make clear what the research can do for reducing inequalities," Fust told the forum.

He called for health research in developing countries — much of it funded by the developed world — to be driven by the demands of the people, and for the political support to communicate and apply the results in poor nations.

Fust said that development agencies supporting research projects have a "moral duty" to see that the results benefit those in developing countries before being used for commercial purposes in developed countries.

He said SDC has built up contacts in local communities helping to link research with the people's needs.

Christina Zarowsky of Canada's International Development and Research Centre (IDRC) agreed, saying IDRC and SDC have cooperated in the 'Research Matters' project to promote research applications in local communities.

Development-agency funding contributed to the book 'Intellectual Property Management in Health and Agricultural Innovation', launched at the forum yesterday (also available online). The book outlines best practices for the developing countries to manage their intellectual property (IP) issues. 

Two UK-based organisations, MIHR (Centre for Management of Intellectual Property in Health Research and Development) and PIPRA (Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture), and the Biodevelopments International Institute in the United States are behind the book.

Shen Hong, a Beijing-based intellectual-property lawyer, said the book would be a valuable resource to intellectual property practitioners in China.

"Patent applications are increasing dramatically in China, but few patent holders and their institutions know how to manage them or make them benefit the public without harming their interests," he told SciDev.Net.

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