South-south collaboration on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment research: when birds of a feather rarely flock together (full-text)

South-south collaboration on health and development research is a critical mechanism for social and economic progress. It allows sharing and replicating experiences to find a “southern solution” to meet shared health challenges, such as access to adequate HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. This study aimed to generate evidence on the dynamics of south-south collaboration in HIV/AIDS research, which could ultimately inform stakeholders on the progress and nature of collaboration towards increased research capacities in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).

Bibliometric and social network analysis methods were used to assess the 10-year (2006–2015) scientific contribution of LMIC, through the analysis of scientific publications on HIV/AIDS prevention and/or treatment. Five dimensions oriented the study: knowledge production, co-authorship analysis, research themes mapping, research types classification and funding sources.

Publications involving LMIC have substantially increased overtime, despite small expression of south-south collaboration. Research themes mapping revealed that publication focus varied according to collaborating countries’ income categories, from diagnosis, opportunistic infections and laboratory-based research (LMIC single or LMIC-LMIC) to human behavior and healthcare, drug therapy and mother to child transmission (LMIC-HIC). The analysis of research types showed that south-south collaborations frequently targeted social sciences issues. Funding agencies acknowledged in south-south collaboration also showed diverse focus: LMIC-based funders tended to support basic biomedical research whereas international/HIC-based funders seem to cover predominantly social sciences-oriented research.

Although the global environment has fostered an increasing participation of LMIC in collaborative learning models, south-south collaboration on HIV/AIDS prevention and/or treatment research seemed to be lower than expected, stressing the need for strategies to foster these partnerships. The evidence presented in this study can be used to strengthen a knowledge platform to inform future policy, planning and funding decisions, contributing to the development of enhanced collaboration and a priority research agenda for LMICs.

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Author(s): Bruna de Paula Fonseca e Fonseca, Priscila Costa Albuquerque, Ed Noyons, Fabio Zicker
Organization(s): Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz),  Leiden University
Source: Globalization and Health
Year: 2018

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