16 Apr 2018

How is "research for implementation" funded?
Preview of a pilot study comparing this field to funding for basic research and product development 

A study on funding for malaria research and development (R&D) has identified the tracking of support for research for implementation as a particular challenge. Developed by a consortium of research and development organizations, the report highlights gaps in financial reporting and monitoring tools to document funding in this area. 

The preview report, published on April 16, draws on a longer analysis developed by Malaria No More UK, PATH, and the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) based at the World Health Organization (WHO), together with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, Innovative Vector Control Consortium, Medicines for Malaria Venture, Policy Cures Research, and WHO’s Global Malaria Programme.

Public reports have documented funding into basic research and product development for the last ten years, but there is little information available on funding of research focused on the systems to implement products and services into health care practices.

As new tools have become available, health care systems are challenged to ensure that the drugs, diagnostics, vaccines, and vector control products are designed for the conditions in which they are used, reach the right place, at the right time, in the right quantities—and are delivered appropriately.

Previously, there was more funding in basic research and insufficient investment into product development. Publicly reported funding data helped to illuminate the gaps and prompt commitments to overcome what was called the valley of death. 

The new report has been developed to provide data that could help address the question of whether there is enough investment in research for implementation, and how well this research is aligned with the product pipeline and health system needs—to help answer the question: Is there a second valley of death in malaria R&D? 



Policy Cures Research, a partner in the new study, queried 26 organizations on their funding in the following three areas: implementation research, operational research, and health systems research. The data received were then combined with what has already been reported for basic research and product development, and the funding levels for each compared.

About half of the 26 organizations surveyed completed the survey in time for inclusion in the preview publication; the final report is expected to additional data. In the meantime, however, the initial findings highlight key challenges and the changes that may be required to have a more complete picture.

One obstacle to more complete data is that donors and recipients need to improve their monitoring systems to better track the funding flows. To do this effectively, however, will require a clearer consensus around categories and definitions of research for implementation, as well as more comprehensive and regular monitoring of funding flows. 

An initial set of recommendations for policymakers and malaria research organizations emphasize the need to:


  1. Agree on research for implementation definitions.

  2. Improve tracking of research for implementation funding at the institutional, national, and subnational levels, including in low- and middle-income countries.

  3. Track funding for training and capacity building for research for implementation.

  4. Continue to build the database on funding of research for implementation.

The preview publication provides examples of research for implementation in four brief case studies—three that document the impact of past research on usability and uptake of insecticide-treated bednets, artemisinin-combination treatments, and rapid diagnostic tests, and a fourth on an upcoming study related to the pilot implementation of the first malaria vaccine.

Case study 1: Drug packaging increases access to malaria treatment
Case study 2: Reducing deaths with bednets
Case study 3: An integrated approach to multiple diseases with a shared symptom
Case study 4: Ensuring appropriate health care use during malaria vaccine introduction


For more information, contact:
PATH/MVI, Preeti Singh at psingh [at] burness.com