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Increasing the value of health research in the WHO African Region beyond 2015—reflecting on the past, celebrating the present and building the future: a bibliometric analysis
  1. Olalekan A Uthman1,2,
  2. Charles Shey Wiysonge1,3,
  3. Martin O Ota4,
  4. Mark Nicol5,
  5. Gregory D Hussey5,
  6. Peter M Ndumbe4,
  7. Bongani M Mayosi6
  1. 1Centre for Evidence-based Health Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
  2. 2Warwick Centre for Applied Health Research and Delivery (WCAHRD), University of Warwick, Warwick Medical School, Coventry, UK
  3. 3South African Cochrane Centre, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa
  4. 4Research, Publications, and Library Services, WHO Regional Office for Africa, Brazzaville, Djoue-Brazzaville, Congo
  5. 5Division of Medical Microbiology & Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  6. 6Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital & University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Charles Shey Wiysonge; charlesw{at}sun.ac.za

Abstract

Objective To assess the profile and determinants of health research productivity in Africa since the onset of the new millennium.

Design Bibliometric analysis.

Data collection and synthesis In November 2014, we searched PubMed for articles published between 2000 and 2014 from the WHO African Region, and obtained country-level indicators from World Bank data. We used Poisson regression to examine time trends in research publications and negative binomial regression to explore determinants of research publications.

Results We identified 107 662 publications, with a median of 727 per country (range 25–31 757). Three countries (South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya) contributed 52% of the publications. The number of publications increased from 3623 in 2000 to 12 709 in 2014 (relative growth 251%). Similarly, the per cent share of worldwide research publications per year increased from 0.7% in 2000 to 1.3% in 2014. The trend analysis was also significant to confirm a continuous increase in health research publications from Africa, with productivity increasing by 10.3% per year (95% CIs +10.1% to +10.5%). The only independent predictor of publication outputs was national gross domestic product. For every one log US$ billion increase in gross domestic product, research publications rose by 105%: incidence rate ratio (IRR=2.05, 95% CI 1.39 to 3.04). The association of private health expenditure with publications was only marginally significant (IRR=1.86, 95% CI 1.00 to 3.47).

Conclusions There has been a significant improvement in health research in the WHO African Region since 2000, with some individual countries already having strong research profiles. Countries of the region should implement the WHO Strategy on Research for Health: reinforcing the research culture (organisation); focusing research on key health challenges (priorities); strengthening national health research systems (capacity); encouraging good research practice (standards); and consolidating linkages between health research and action (translation).

  • PUBLIC HEALTH
  • EPIDEMIOLOGY

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