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Mobilizing Principles for Equitable Global Health Research: Canada invests in research to ensure global health is practiced in an equitable way

For many people, the raison d’être of global health is the achievement of health equity for all people worldwide. Reaffirming this view is the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 3, which seeks to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” Yet, after decades of programming and billions of dollars invested in global health, alarming health inequities persist across and within countries. The current COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these health inequities, underscoring the need for the field of global health to do more and to do better.
Female technician uses a microscope at a laboratory in Nairobi.
IDRC / Bartay
Technician at a laboratory in Nairobi, Kenya.

At its core, global health research (GHR) is a field that seeks to improve health and achieve equity in health for all people worldwide. Paradoxically, GHR is also culpable of perpetuating the same health inequities that it generally seeks to understand and address. For example, the rising calls for the decolonization of global health have called out practices such as ‘parasitic research’ and ‘foreign gaze’ as symptoms of the deeply entrenched power imbalances between global health researchers and populations in high-income countries and those in low- and middle-income countries. 

Responding to the need to ensure GHR is conducted in an ethical way, IDRC and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research have launched a research initiative entitled “Mobilizing Principles for Equitable Global Health Research”. This initiative will support the identification and implementation of effective knowledge-mobilization strategies for integrating what are known collectively as ‘Principles for Global Health Research’ into action across the Canadian GHR ecosystem. 

The Principles for Global Health Research (the Principles) were developed by the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research (now, the Canadian Association for Global Health) through a consultative process. Developed for all those involved in GHR — including people designing, conducting, using, teaching, learning about, assessing, funding or collaborating on GHR — the Principles identify equity as a central pillar. The six Principles are: authentic partnering, inclusion, shared benefits, commitment to the future, responsiveness to the causes of inequities and humility.  

Since their publication in 2015, the Principles are increasingly being used by the GHR community, including by universities, non-academic research organizations, governmental bodies and non-governmental organizations, to inform training, curriculum development, research design and research funding. They are seen as an exemplar in global health and health equity more broadly. The time is ripe to mobilize their integration across the GHR ecosystem. 


Quick Facts

  • This is a joint initiative of IDRC and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. 

  • One grant of up to CAD600,000 will be awarded through an open competitive process. 

  • The Government of Canada is the largest single investor in health research in Canada. It is also a global leader in the field of international health research. 

For more information see: