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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

WHO Pushes for Open Access to Health Research Data

By Jill Drachenberg, Editor, Relias Media

The World Health Organization (WHO) is continuing its efforts to promote open access to health research data, a movement that has been gaining steam over the past several years.

WHO announced this week that it is joining cOAlition S, a group comprised of international charitable organizations and research funders advocating for publicly funded health research to be published in open access journals and databases accessible to the public. The coalition’s Plan S initiative aims to require studies performed with public grants be published in open access journals and platforms starting in 2021.

“WHO champions the right of everybody to access quality healthcare services, and our support for open access to the health research that underpins that care goes hand-in-hand with that commitment,” WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said in a statement. “By joining this coalition, we believe we can accelerate progress toward universal free access to health research — an ambition that supports our current strategy of one billion more people benefiting from universal health coverage over the next five years.”

The push for clinical trial transparency and reporting of results has been gaining traction over the past few years. In July, IRB Advisor reported that study authors found that 67 clinical trials that enrolled nearly 90,000 subjects went unreported between 2007 and 2012. “When trial results are not made publicly available for years after study completion, patients, institutional review boards, clinicians, researchers, and the public must rely on incomplete evidence, which may lead to misconceptions about the efficacy and safety of interventions,” the study authors wrote.

The AllTrials campaign also has pushed for full disclosure and publication of research results, conducting periodic audits of transparency policies and research publication, as reported by IRB Advisor.