£15m UK collaboration to bolster health systems in low and middle-income countries

The Department for International Development (DfID) has today announced a new £15m research initiative aimed at improving health systems in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).

The scheme is a collaboration between the DfID, the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council and looks to support researchers and research groups in LMICs, with full-scale research projects able to seek funding for up to five years.

The four funders are sharing the cost of the scheme, which equates to three annual calls of £5m. The "combined strength of four important UK funders of health research", says Dr Jimmy Whitworth, head of International Activities at the Wellcome Trust, "gives us an opportunity to create benefits that no single funder could achieve alone."

The initiative will support research that helps deliver practical measures to improve health systems. Research that benefits the most vulnerable and/or poorly resourced populations will be given priority, along with work that builds evidence and helps better existing interventions.

Dr Mark Palmer, director of International Strategy at the Medical Research Council, said that the cooperation between the four groups "ensure[s] that the benefits of biomedical research are translated into practice and have a real, practical impact on human health globally."