Partners’ HPSR report – 2021
A total of 46 health research institutions were identified in Colombia, with 26 of these based in the capital, Bogota. The majority – 33 in all – are university-based, followed by six government entities and five hospital-based institutions. The two remaining institutions consist of one independent think tank and one NGO.
Recent decades have seen efforts to strengthen health knowledge and, as a result, the country’s public health policies, programmes, protocols and guidelines are informed increasingly by research evidence. There is state support for research capacity strengthening, and ongoing consultations between policy-makers and researchers have created collaborations that were mobilized in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Institutions by type
List of HPSR institutions
institutions working on HPSR in Colombia in recent decades. First, through Law 30 of 1992, the country has promoted the development of higher education institutions to ensure greater access for the population. This has helped to create many of the institutions that now generate research around health policies and systems. Second, Colombia’s reform of its health system, which began in 1990, has extended the country’s health entities to include those in the private sector, increasing the number of institutions that generate knowledge on HPSR. Greater knowledge generation has, in turn, increased the information available on the country’s health status through, for example, the monitoring of health conditions and inequalities in health access, coverage and quality. As a result, the formulation and evaluation of public policies, programmes, protocols and guidelines are now evidence-based.
The number of research reports produced has varied markedly since 2018, falling from 656 to 584 in 2019 before a significant increase to 849 in 2020.
Average number of reports produced per institution each year in Colombia and overall
Engaging policy-makers and the public
The Ministry of Health and Social Protection has established spaces for discussions with different parties (academia, industry, insurers and providers of health services) to discuss public health policies and enable their inclusion of research findings and reports. Strategic and advisory committees are conducted by the Ministry of Health, for example, and there are also a number of working groups, including those dedicated to orphan diseases and observatories of diseases such as cancer. These pre-existing working groups were mobilized and consolidated as part of the country’s strategic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were 65 meetings reported with policy-makers in 2020 – a marked increase on the 25 meetings held in 2018. In total, 63 000 newspaper articles were identified that were related to HPSR in 2020: an average of 7000 per institution.
 Unlike some other countries in this report, this number reflects articles from a targeted search of national media outlets rather than self-reporting by institutions, which may explain, in part, the high numbers as compared to other countries. It is likely that this figure includes articles naming health authorities, providers and insurers, and, therefore, overestimates the news coverage of HPSR.
Average number of meetings held with policy-makers per institution each year in Colombia and overall
Average number of media articles published per institution each year in Colombia and overall
Academic and institutional capacity
The government aims to develop public health policies that are based on studies by research institutions. It is also working to expand HPSR through calls to finance research projects that respond to national needs and priorities, with an expectation that these projects will provide solutions to health challenges and improve the well-being of the population. To support these aims, the Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection and the Colombian Ministry of Sciences, Technology and Innovation (MinCiencias) have supported the strengthening and development of researchers’ capacities through the Health Research Fund (FIS) and other national and international financing entities.
The number of HPSR faculty/staff has soared from under 130 in 2018 and 2019 to 2878 in 2020. At the same time, however, the number of HPSR students has fallen, from a high of 12 278 in 2019 to 4624 in 2020.
Total number of HPSR faculty and staff
Total number of participants in HPSR-related short courses
In 2020, Colombia’s national health research budget was US$ 222.5 million, one of the highest budgets reported for the countries participating in this survey.
While great efforts have been made to obtain resources for basic and applied HPSR (such as the creation of special-purpose funds), investments in HPSR remain low. Colombia’s health research expenditure stands below 0.01% of GDP, although this is expected to rise to at least 1.5% from the resources allocated to the national health budget in the years to come. Given the wide participation of private institutions that conduct research using their own resources, there is also a need for clarity on the scale of private resources allocated to HPSR. Regarding external sources, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) provide the largest shares of financing in the region for scientific-technological capacity building through their lending operations and technical cooperation.
Total institutional expenditure
Credits and disclaimers
Partners’ health policy and systems research report, 2021
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