Report: World-Wide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) Health Histories Seminar

Posted on 28 June 2016

CGHH presents a report on a recent Health Histories Witness Seminar hosted by WWARN, on 23 June 2016.

A World-Wide Antimalarial Research Network (WWARN) Health Histories Seminar was held at the NDM Research Building, Target Discovery Institute and Tropical Medicine, at the University of Oxford June 23rd, 2016. This event was co-chaired by Rob Terry (Manager of the WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases) and our University of York colleague, Dr. João Nunes (Dep.t of Politics). The event was attended by a panel of expert speakers and participants, including CGHH PhD student Ben Walker, who provided valuable introductory and closing remarks, from the perspective of a historian working in this field.

Rob Terry, manager at WHO/TDR, represented the WHO in the earliest discussions about data sharing between major funders of public health research, discussions that led to the Joint Statement of 2010 in which funders declared their intention to require patient or micro-level data to be shared. He now works to encourage the translation of knowledge into improved policies, with stronger chances of successful implementation.

Dr. João Nunes is a political scientist and UoY associate member of CGHH. He has worked extensively on the politics of global health, recently looking at collaboration (and lack of it) during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Previously, João worked on the project The Brazilian Discourse of Food Security and the Remaking of World Politics. He was also the Principal Investigator on the project Rethinking Emancipation in Critical Security Studiesfunded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

The World-Wide Antimalarial Resistance Network is part of the Infectious Disease Data Observatory (IDDO), a global collaboration that brings together members of the global infectious disease community across the research and humanitarian sectors to collaborate in the generation, analysis and application of data to improve outcomes for patients. WWARN support the World Health Organisation and different national governments by providing comprehensive evidence to track the emergence and spread of malaria drug resistance, and improve drug efficacy of existing antimalarial medicines and new drugs in development.

This Health Histories seminar focused on the development and evolution of WWARN. Specifically, the seminar concentrated on the early collaborations that developed into the WWARN network. While the WWARN was not initially conceived as a data sharing platform, the seminar explored the motivations, mechanisms and structures which allowed data to be shared, and the effects of that sharing. This included discussing early perceptions of WWARN and its goals, and the changing relevance and impact of its policies over time. Looking to the future, June’s seminar is intended to be part of a larger case study of the network, which will help to identify the relationships, procedures and community norms that contribute to successful data sharing platforms.

Speaking about the seminar, and WWARN’s important work in data sharing, Dr. João Nunes commented that:

“Data sharing is an important (and often overlooked) challenge in global health. It is important that we find principles and guidelines that can allow for effective and timely sharing, so as to avoid duplication of efforts and make the most out of research results for the improvement of public health. This sharing needs to be supported by adequate infrastructure and research capacity-building. Importantly, it also needs to be fair: recognizing the needs of users and also of researchers at different stages of their careers and in different settings. In this context, learning from the experience of WWARN is of immense use to respond to present and future health challenges.”

An audio recording of this seminar was taken, and will be made available in due course.