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conferences and talks

Richard Smith: We need “disease” to make us healthy

23 Dec, 13 | by BMJ

Richard SmithHealth, says the WHO, is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. But could it be that some sort of infirmity is essential for being healthy? more…

Anne Winter: The drive for universal health coverage

20 Dec, 13 | by BMJ

anne_winterIn 2000, the whole of sub Saharan Africa had fewer telephone lines than Manhattan, and less than 3% of rural villages had access to land line telephones. Six years later, 45% had GSM coverage and connectivity is now a given across the continent. So it may be with healthcare.

As momentum gathers around efforts to achieve universal access to healthcare and countries across the world embark on healthcare reforms, there is a real opportunity to bypass conventional approaches—often based on Western models that are ill adapted to other contexts and needs—and to adopt new ways of delivering healthcare that can offer better value to users.   more…

Tessa Richards: Leadership matters—lessons from Lithuania

26 Nov, 13 | by BMJ

Tessa RichardsAt this year’s European Health Forum Gastein, the wannabe Davos for health, a call went out for “stronger leadership on health.” Europe needs health ministers who can advocate to protect the health of its citizens as effectively as their counterparts in finance and industry speak up for and guard it’s economic interests. Tweets from the meeting included the following tongue in cheek plea: #EHFG2013 Could the UK borrow the current Lithuanian health minister? Vast improvement on what we’ve got!

It’s not hard to see why Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, who has been in post less than a year, has gained a reputation as one of Europe’s foremost leaders on health. Born in a Gulag camp in Siberia, he has long been politically active; he was arrested by the KGB in 1976. His recent book, which warns against “re-framing” Lithuania’s turbulent recent history, has been praised by critics. He is also a doctor, and he worked as a cardiac surgeon between 1975 and 1993. more…

Tiago Villanueva: Is active travel good for health?

14 Nov, 13 | by BMJ

Tiago_VillanuevaIf you thought Australia was the envy of the rest of the world in terms of having the most physically active people, think again. Peter McCue, executive officer for the New South Wales Premier’s Council for Active Living, recently gave a talk entitled, “Walk hand in hand: health and transport collaborations,” organised by C3 Collaborating for Health. According to him, Australia is actually a car based society comparable with the United States rather than with countries like the Netherlands or Denmark, where active travel (walking or cycling to work) is quite established, or with cities like London, where run-commuting (running to work) is popular. more…

David McCoy: Ecology, politics, economics, and violence—the wider role of health professionals

13 Nov, 13 | by BMJ

david_mccoyLast Saturday saw more than 250 people attend a Medact conference on the interfaces between health, politics, ecology, economics, and violence. There were about 30 speakers including well known figures from the world of health (Richard Horton, Iain Chalmers, Allyson Pollock, Andy Haines, John Lister, and Jacky Davis). But there were also speakers from other worlds such as Jim Welsh from Amnesty International, Charlie Kronick from Greenpeace, John Hilary from War on Want, Maya Foa from Reprieve, and Peter Burt from the Nuclear Information Service.

Thus we had students, doctors, nurses, and other health professionals talking with and learning from lawyers, economists, human rights experts, and political scientists about the wider determinants of global health. The discussion was serious, but the space buzzed with energy. more…

Gabriel Scally: A grotesque parody of fairness

5 Nov, 13 | by BMJ

It’s a long way to go from Bristol to Boston for a conference, but I’m adding to my carbon footprint and attending the 141st American Public Health association meeting. It’s an enormous meeting. Despite some tough times in the US local public health departments, 13 000 people are making this meeting, yet again, the biggest public health gathering in the world.

The APHA has a track record of attracting high profile speakers to its opening session. The highlight of the 2012 opening was a tour de force by the Democrat House of Representatives leader, Nancy Pelosi. That was always going be tough act to follow. The audience at the 2013 opening session was captivated not by a high profile American politician, a movie star or novelist, but by an English public health academic. Those of us who have heard Sir Michael Marmot speak at conferences over the past years have come to know what to expect. His contribution in respect of the social determinants of health is truly outstanding and is of global significance. His impeccably measured, intellectual, and analytical presentations have convinced world leaders and policy makers to take health equity seriously. We all expected more of the same. more…

Jennifer Hislop: Florence Nightingale and Mae West – the unsung pioneers of health policy?

9 Oct, 13 | by BMJ

Jennifer HislopThe second part of the session “Investing in health. From health to wealth” at the European Health Forum Gastein was devoted to “Resolving the efficiency and quality dilemma.” Olivia Wigzell, Deputy Director General of Health and Social Affairs in Sweden, spoke eloquently on the topic of health systems performance assessment (HSPA), citing Florence Nightingale as an early pioneer. Not only did Nightingale evaluate the effectiveness of performance during the Crimean War, she also used visual methods of describing her statistics to articulate the problems clearly and so aid politicians in their decision making. We can only wonder what Florence Nightingale would have achieved with PowerPoint at her fingertips. Things are of course different now and perhaps she would have lost her zeal for statistics if it had been policy to collect key performance indicator data? more…

Jennifer Hislop: Running healthcare systems in an age of austerity—riding the “rodeo bull”

9 Oct, 13 | by BMJ

Jennifer HislopThis was the analogy put to delegates by Hungarian Minister of State for Health, Miklos Szocska, during the first session of the European Health Forum panel on “Investing for health. From health to wealth.” But can all European countries make sure they stay in the saddle?

DG SANCO director general Paola Testori Coggi focused her talk around the commission staff working document, “Investing in Health,” and detailed the upcoming priorities at EU level, including the implementation of the cross border healthcare directive. She reiterated the need to view health spending as an opportunity for investment—fewer sick days mean increased productivity among the workforce. After all, how can Europe get back on its feet financially if we’re all unwell? more…

Roberto Debono: “We must not speak about crisis, we must speak about a new reality”

8 Oct, 13 | by BMJ

Roberto DebonoThe title is a quote from a discussion between Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, the Minister of Health, Lithuania, and Spyridon-Adonis Georgiades, the Minister of Health, Greece, and it set the tone at the opening plenary of the 16th European Health Forum, which kicked off on Wednesday 2 October at 12.30 sharp in Bad Hofgastein, Austria.

Dr Helmut Brand, President of the International Forum Gastein, introduced the forum, this year entitled Resilient and Innovative Health Systems for Europe, to a full house of public health professionals against the picturesque backdrop of the Gastein valley.

In the words of Spyridon-Adonis Georgiades, the Greek Minister for Health and one of the five guests on the panel, the crisis (or new reality) “…will be with us for many more years to come,” and policy should be structured to address such a reality. more…

Richard Lehman on the 7th International Shared Decision Making conference

20 Jun, 13 | by BMJ

Richard LehmanThe seventh International Shared Decision Making (ISDM) conference, sponsored by the BMJ, took place in Lima, Peru, over the last three days. It was organised by Victor Montori, a charismatic global proponent of patient centred care, who is a native of Lima and professor at the Mayo Clinic. The motto he chose was “pacientes @ the centre of healthcare,” emphasising the Hispanic location, internationalism (with centre spelt the British way), and the need to recover respect for the patient on a global scale. more…

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