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Do national funding organizations properly address the diseases with the highest burden?: Observations from China and the UK

Author

Listed:
  • Lin Zhang

    (Wuhan University
    KU Leuven)

  • Wenjing Zhao

    (Wuhan University)

  • Jianhua Liu

    (Beijing Wanfang Data Ltd.)

  • Gunnar Sivertsen

    (Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU))

  • Ying Huang

    (Wuhan University
    KU Leuven)

Abstract

Recent years have witnessed an incipient shift in science policy from a focus mainly on academic excellence to a focus that also takes into account “societal impact”. This shift raises the question as to whether medical research has given proper attention to the diseases imposing the greatest burden on society. Therefore, with the aim of identifying correlations between research funding priorities and public demand in health, we examine grants issued by the major medical research funding bodies of China and the UK during 2006–2017 and compare the focus of their funded projects with the diseases that carry the highest burden of death, risk, or loss of health. The results indicate that the funding decisions of both nations do correspond to the illnesses with the highest health impact on their citizens. For both regions, the greatest health concerns surround non-communicable diseases, and neoplasms and cardiovascular disease in particular. In China, national health priorities have remained focused on these illnesses for the benefit of its own population, whereas the UK has funded a wider variety of research, extending to projects with impacts outside its borders to some developing countries. Additionally, despite an increased incidence of mental illness and HIV/AIDs in China, there is evidence that less priority has been given to these conditions. Both of these health areas seem to require more attention from China’s national funding agencies and the society in general. Methodologically, this study can serve as an example of how to conduct analyses related to public health issues by combining informetric methods and data with the tools and data from other fields, thereby inspiring other scientometrics studies.

Suggested Citation

  • Lin Zhang & Wenjing Zhao & Jianhua Liu & Gunnar Sivertsen & Ying Huang, 2020. "Do national funding organizations properly address the diseases with the highest burden?: Observations from China and the UK," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 125(2), pages 1733-1761, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:scient:v:125:y:2020:i:2:d:10.1007_s11192-020-03572-9
    DOI: 10.1007/s11192-020-03572-9
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    References listed on IDEAS

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