In 2014, FIND developed a five-year strategic plan that has as one of its goals to strengthen its role in promoting diagnostic solutions for neglected diseases in resource-poor settings, both for individual patient diagnosis and for disease surveillance and elimination. In this context, FIND is interested in the perceptions of global health stakeholders concerning the importance of diagnostics, and their organizations’ commitments and contributions to the development, evaluation, endorsement, uptake and implementation of diagnostics.
In October/November 2015, FIND conducted a short survey among global health stakeholders on these perceptions. While not statistically representative of any region or stakeholder group, the survey provides a useful yardstick to help guide FIND and its partners on advocacy efforts to increase support for diagnostic solutions in resource-poor settings.
261 people from 62 countries completed the survey: 23 in French, 10 in Spanish and 228 in English. Respondents from eight countries accounted for 59% of those who completed the survey: USA, Switzerland, India, France, the Netherlands, UK, South Africa and Kenya.
The vast majority of respondents (97%) expressed agreement that diagnostics are as important a component of the essential health toolkit as vaccines and drugs, with 84% expressing strong agreement. (See graph Diagnostic tests are as important a component of the essential health toolkit as vaccines & drugs)
Just over three-quarters of respondents agreed that diagnostics were a key component of their work, and 67% agreed that their organizations had made it a priority to seek or commit funding for the development, evaluation or implementation of essential diagnostics for resource-poor settings in the previous two years. (See graph Diagnostics were an organizational priority over the last two years)
Nearly half of respondents (46%) agreed that their budgets had increased for diagnostics over the past two years and 29% expressed some level of disagreement, indicating that their budgets had gone down during that time. (See graph Budget increased for diagnostics in the last two years). Sixty-one percent (61%) of respondents felt that their organizations had made an important contribution to advancing the development and use of diagnostics in the past two years. (See graph My organization has made an important contribution to advancing the use of diagnostics over the past years)
The online survey, which was conducted using Google Forms, consisted of five statements with responses on a Likert scale to gauge the degree of respondents’ agreement or disagreement.
Respondents were first asked to identify the type of organization they were affiliated with and, based on their answers, they then received the five statements modified slightly to reflect their sector or context, broadly summarized as donors, researchers, developers, international organizations, implementers (including health ministries of low- and middle-income countries and implementing organizations) and advocates. A comment line was included for those who wished to add any remarks. (See graph Respondents by WHO Region)
The survey was anonymous, unless respondents chose to provide contact information for follow-up through a short qualitative survey to take place in January 2016.
Links to the survey were disseminated through the October 2015 issue of FIND’s monthly e-newsletter, emailed to FIND’s full stakeholder contact list, posted to the FIND website and shared on social media. In addition, readers were encouraged to share survey links with those in their networks. Anyone working in the global health sector, including health ministries and programme implementers in low- and middle-income countries, and R&D, was encouraged to participate. While FIND staff, Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Committee were asked not to participate in the survey, they were requested to disseminate the survey within their networks as well. (See graph Respondents’ areas of work)