Research and development (R&D) is critical to ensuring that high impact, affordable health technologies reach the people who need them most. In low and middle income countries, a policy and regulatory environment that encourages innovation can lead to enhanced economic growth and better social outcomes. Moreover, domestic investment in health R&D guarantees that solutions reflect a country’s priority health needs.
The government of South Africa has demonstrated commitment to health R&D, passing a number of policies and strategies aimed at bolstering the country’s innovation agenda. Additionally, government funding for health R&D has increased over the past decade and has met an important international commitment to direct 2 percent of the national health budget to R&D. These policies and commitments should ultimately translate science, research, and technological development into economic growth and a higher quality of life for South Africa’s people—implementation, however, remains a challenge.