Letter from the Editor


The World Health Organization (WHO) is delighted to welcome the participants of the 10th Global Forum for Health Research to Cairo, the home of the Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean. WHO has worked closely with the Global Forum for Health Research since its inception, and the theme of this year’s conference, “Combating disease and promoting health”, is particularly relevant to the core work of WHO.

In this issue of the Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal (EMHJ) we highlight some examples of research being conducted in different countries around the Eastern Mediterranean Region. These reflect the enormous range and sophistication of topics being investigated in our Region: not only the tropical diseases that still blight many areas, but also issues of concern in every country of the world: reproductive health, mental health, avian influenza, noncommunicable diseases, health service workload, hospital safety. Some, however, are topics advancing knowledge specific to our Region: female genital mutilation, development of Arabic versions of standard research tools and the Arabization of the medical curriculum.

The WHO 52nd Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean in Cairo in September last year noted that investment in research remained low in countries of the Region. The Regional Director, Dr Hussein Gezairy, re-emphasized the call made at the Ministerial Summit on Health Research in Mexico in 2004, for governments to fund the necessary health research to ensure vibrant health systems and reduce inequity and social injustice.

This investment need not just be financial. Research is challenging enough in situations of peace and stability. However, instability in many parts of our Region means that researchers must work in seemingly impossible conditions. We salute the bravery and tenacity of health and medical researchers who continue to carry out and disseminate research throughout periods of political instability, international embargoes and extreme terrorist violence and even when they themselves are the targets of attack. WHO Representatives work hard to support researchers in these countries and the EMHJ welcomes their contributions. Support does not need to come only from big institutions and agencies, however. Let this be a stimulus to fellow medical researchers, within and outwith the EMR to make more personal efforts to show academic solidarity with their colleagues in these countries through initiatives such as networks of contacts, sponsoring fellowships and joint programmes of research.

We wish all participants at Forum 10 a stimulating and fruitful conference and an enjoyable stay in Cairo.