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Welcome to IDRC's Global Health microsite for the Canadian Conference on Global Health 2022

At the Canadian Conference on Global Health 2022 (CCGH2022), we are showcasing IDRC’s investments, contributions and outcomes to further better global health outcomes in the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where we work.

IDRC is pleased to be attending CCGH2022. At CCGH2022, we are showcasing IDRC’s investments, contributions and outcomes to further better global health outcomes in the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where we work. We have a wealth of knowledge resources demonstrating a strong Canadian presence and operations in the domain of international development research, including our work combating COVID-19. Some of these resources are outlined on this page and for more information, please visit our Global Health page.

If you would like to discuss any of the topics, partnerships or investments described on this page during your time at CCGH2022, please contact our Director, John Dusabe-Richards, who represents IDRC in Toronto. You can email jdusabe-richards@idrc.ca or you can also reach us in Ottawa at globalhealth@idrc.ca.

About IDRC

IDRC, a part of Canada’s foreign affairs and development efforts, was established by an Act of Canada’s Parliament in 1970 with a mandate “to initiate, encourage, support, and conduct research into the problems of the developing regions of the world and into the means for applying and adapting scientific, technical, and other knowledge to the economic and social advancement of those regions.”

Global Health is one of IDRC’s five program divisions. Our mandate is to strengthen LMIC health systems for better preparedness and response to epidemics and pandemics as well as effective services for sexual, reproductive and maternal health (SRMH). Some of our current programs are described below.

IDRC’s Global Health Division has a multitude of other past and present initiatives, and our current portfolio is about CAD144M. Our priority is to continue our collaborations with other government funders in the G7, philanthropic and international foundations, LMIC stakeholders and the private sector in healthcare globally to deliver impact.

IDRC’s COVID-19 Response

Since 2020, IDRC has invested more than CAD70M as part of Canada’s response to the pandemic through several important new initiatives. This includes CAD25.2M on COVID-19 Responses for Equity Initiative to build understanding of the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and the CAD6M COVID-19 Africa Rapid Grant Fund, a partnership between IDRC, South Africa’s National Research Foundation, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, UK Research and Innovation, South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Fonds de recherche du Québec, for health research, science engagement and science advice across 17 African nations. We also joined Canadian Government funders on the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus Rapid Research Funding Opportunity.

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Darius Rackus, miembro del laboratorio de Keith Pardee en la Universidad de Toronto, ensambla equipos portátiles de diagnóstico que se usaron para detectar el zika y otras enfermedades en América del Sur.
PARDEE LAB, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

Climate Change and Health

While the impact of climate change on global health is not new, the threat of climate change and the need to take concerted, transformative actions has only grown in recent years, particularly for the protection and promotion of the health, livelihoods and rights of marginalized LMIC populations who live on the edge of social, environmental and economic systems. Research localized in LMICs, centred on the lives of marginalized populations, is critical for identifying and implementing sustainable action. In 2022, IDRC commissioned the Scientific Advisory Committee on Global Health to carry out a Rapid Scoping Review of Reviews on Climate Change and Global Health, which pointed out various research priorities by quickly filling knowledge gaps about the breadth and depth of existing syntheses of evidence on climate change and global health. We welcome conversations with other funders interested in investing in this area.

Sustained Changes through Gender-Transformative Research

In 2021-2022, IDRC launched a cohort of seven projects to generate knowledge and evidence to advance gender-transformative innovations in SRMH through health systems strengthening. These approaches confront underlying gender inequalities and power structures to overcome restrictive sexual and gender norms. Working in Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria and South Africa, the cohort adopts an intersectional lens to address issues such as shifting social and gender norms, positive masculinities, youth-friendly services, unmet mental health and SRMH needs, and vocational and life-skills training as well as subsidized childcare for adolescent mothers. We are working to ensure our funding embodies Gender-Transformative Research, please contact us to discuss lessons learned and future programming directions.

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Adolescent girls in The Gambia who were trained on embroidery by the early marriage project funded by IDRC.
ALHAGIE MANKA/STATE OF MIC
Adolescent girls trained in embroidery through the IDRC-funded early marriage project in The Gambia. This project aims to enhance the vocational skills of girls and improve their access to economic development opportunities.

Women RISE

Women RISE (Women’s health and economic empowerment for a COVID-19 Recovery that is Inclusive, Sustainable and Equitable) is a CAD24M collaborative initiative with the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) that aims to support action-oriented and gender-transformative research on how women's health and their work (paid or unpaid) intersect and interact in the context of preparedness, response and recovery from COVID-19. The Two-Stage Call for Proposals for Research Teams was issued on March 8, 2022, and it has generated 23 finalist applications from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean which are now undergoing grant negotiations. Through Women RISE, we seek to expand partnerships with similar-minded funders in LMICs to ensure that the COVID-19 response and future pandemic preparedness embodies gender equality and economic empowerment of women. 

Learn more about Women RISE.

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Women rise

Vaccine hesitancy

In 2019, the World Health Organization declared vaccine hesitancy to be one of the top ten threats to global health. This challenge has become further amplified now with respect to the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines. Drivers of vaccine hesitancy include misinformation and the lack of availability of reliable information; distrust of government, authorities and the pharmaceutical industry; vaccine counterfeits; concerns about side-effects; and cultural and religious beliefs. Against these factors, vaccine availability does not easily translate into population uptake. Research and development in vaccines and therapeutics continues to be a challenge contributing to the dire situation in LMICs. IDRC has invested in a pilot project with the African Health Economics and Policy Association and Africa Centres for Disease Control to identify tools that can support African countries in addressing this issue. If you have any research or evidence in this area, please contact us to share lessons learned.   

Artificial Intelligence and Health

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming how health systems are planned and how health services are delivered across LMICs. In the absence of locally relevant research, coupled with strengthened individual and institutional capabilities to design, implement and use well-governed and responsible (e.g., ethical, non-biased, inclusive and accountable) AI within health systems, we run the risk of naively expecting the benefits of AI to outweigh the risks — especially for those with limited agency and voice. Building on existing IDRC work on whether and how AI across different thematic areas including global health, we are investing to fill the knowledge gaps on if/how AI can improve population and individual health outcomes in the context of epidemics and SRMH. Launched in June 2022, the Artificial Intelligence for Global Health (AI4GH) initiative is a five-year, CAD15.5M investment that funds researchers in the Global South to investigate and develop responsible AI solutions applied to key program areas of SRMH and pandemic preparedness, response and recovery.

More information about AI4GH is available here.

One Health

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In 2021, we invested CAD20M to fund One-Health research projects to better understand emerging epidemic threats and to how demonstrate that research-informed solutions can protect the health and livelihoods of vulnerable populations, strengthen local food systems and promote environmental sustainability. Multidisciplinary research projects will be chosen from sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. We continue to prioritize this area and work across the Government of Canada and with development partners to contribute evidence and resources to the policy and programming agendas.

Learn more about our One Health initiative here.

Partnership for Evidence and Equity in Responsive Social Systems

Since 2018, the Partnership for Evidence and Equity in Responsive Social Systems (PEERSS) has facilitated the use of evidence by policymakers and stakeholders to clarify priority development problems and causes, frame options to address them, and identify implementation considerations in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia. Co-funded by IDRC and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, PEERSS is driven by the values of co-creation, equity and commitment, and its teams work to fulfill their mission of collaborating for better evidence, better decisions and better lives. PEERSS aims to promote, amplify, facilitate and strengthen the use of evidence to inform decision-making in health and social policies. PEERSS teams all have longstanding ties to national ministries and key policy informants within government, academia and research institutions. You can learn more about PEERSS on its website.

For more information on PEERSS, see our brief.

Below is a list of resources from recently concluded initiatives: 

Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa 

The Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa (IMCHA) initiative sought to support locally relevant interventions that foster better health outcomes. From 2014-2022, IMCHA made important strides toward improving the lives of women and children in 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Co-funded by Global Affairs Canada, CIHR and IDRC, IMCHA was an eight-year, CAD36M initiative. To learn more about IMCHA, please see IMCHA at a glance, an overview impact brief and our overview video.

More information on IMCHA is available here.

Centre of Excellence for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems

Previously housed at IDRC, the Centre of Excellence (CoE) was a global resource hub that actively supported national efforts to develop, strengthen and scale up sustainable civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems that work for all, especially women and girls. Funded by Global Affairs Canada and IDRC from December 2015 to July 2021, its role was to facilitate access to technical assistance, global standards and tools, evidence and good practice, with a strong commitment to gender equality. The CoE collaborated with partners to generate an evidence base, strengthen capacities and ultimately improve CRVS systems around the world. Read this short impact brief to learn more about the CoE's contributions to the CRVS field in 67 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. Now under the leadership of the UNFPA, the CoE is strongly positioned within the new UNFPA Strategic Plan 2022–2025 to continue strengthening CRVS systems globally in 166 countries. The plan builds on the UNFPA’s ongoing country-level and global leadership on population data and will aim to continue its focus on supporting gender-transformative CRVS systems.

Learn more about CRVS.