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The Global Forum for Health Research, whose acute problems were highlighted by SciDev.Net last week, has decided to merge with another leading organisation pursuing similar aims in health research for development.

The forum announced today, jointly with the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED), that they will combine forces.

They made the announcement following the closing sessions of a pioneering meeting on health systems research — the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, organised by the WHO.

A press release issued by the two organisations said: "The Forum's governing body, the Foundation Council, decided that the future of the Global Forum for Health Research will be best served by integrating its programmes and activities with those of COHRED".

The forum has recently suffered a series of problems including funding trouble, the early resignation of its director, Anthony Mbewu, and the loss of many staff.

It was set up in 1998 to take a global view of health research, and to highlight the crucial role of research and innovation in achieving health and health equity. Since then, it has run successful international meetings that brought together health researchers from developing countries and international leaders in their fields.

COHRED, founded in 1993, is a nongovernmental organisation that supports developing countries' use of health research to improve their health systems and advance development.

It works mainly through advocacy, technical support, research and knowledge-sharing.

The two organisations said today that they saw "clear complementarities" between their expertise, from COHRED's "portfolio of services and tools that support countries to strengthen governance and management of research and innovation for health", to the forum's "influential international conference on research and innovation for health for development, its tracking of resource flows in health research, and its advocacy skills".

Carel IJsselmuiden, COHRED's director, said the merger "prepares us to engage health and development in a new way — in line with a new phase of South–North interaction [in which the South has a stronger voice].

"It is about providing better services and value for money to countries and to those investing in global research and innovation for health."

But sources connected with the forum said that, while a merger may be a route out of a difficult situation, the forum's Foundation Council should be held accountable for its demise.

The integration will be managed by a transition team consisting of members of the governing bodies and senior staff of both organisations. A timeline and actions will be agreed by next March.

Read SciDev.Net's blog from the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research