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Fran Baum

Fran Baum on the final day of the WHO global health meeting

17 Jun, 13 | by BMJ

Fran BaumFran Baum is blogging from the 8th World Health Organization Global Health meeting. Read her other blogs here.

The morning session of the final day of the WHO 8th global health meeting (8GCHP) had many contributions looking to the future. Heidi Hautala, minister for internal development, Finland, spoke of the importance of woman in development, noting that child survival increases by 20% when the mother controls the household budget. She stressed that the Millenium Development Goals post 2015 must address health inequities. Eduardo Espinoza, minister of health, El Salvado, gave an impassioned plea for a rejection of what he described as “an irrational addiction to an outdated model of economic growth,” which ignores people’s and the environment’s needs. He stressed that El Salvador’s health reform has been based on social participation and broad intersectoral effort to deepen understanding of and action on social determinants of health. He said they assessed the health impact of industry including mining and agriculture and then regulated to protect health. Roopa Dhatt (President of International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations) representing the voice of youth gave young people’s vision for the future of health—stressing the need for a systems view considering sustainability, health, and wellbeing. Hoda Rashad, Egypt, emphasised that health equity must become the benchmark of a country’s success. more…

Fran Baum on Finland’s primary healthcare system

14 Jun, 13 | by BMJ

Fran BaumFran Baum is blogging from the 8th World Health Organization Global Health meeting. Read her other blogs here.

Yesterday was “Europe Day” and the impact of the financial crisis in Europe was at the forefront of people’s minds. Many talked of its health impact and especially the devastating impact of high unemployment. Zsuzsanna Jakab, World Health Organization regional director for Europe, spoke about her region’s Health 2020 strategic objectives which aim to improve health and reduce the health divide through leadership and participatory governance for health. She spoke of the economic burden of chronic disease and the need to use fiscal measures to control risk factors. I was very impressed that she didn’t mention behaviour change strategies—there has been progress in health promotion! more…

Fran Baum: How can governments globally get “Big Food” to change its addiction to sugar and fat?

13 Jun, 13 | by BMJ

Fran BaumFran Baum is blogging from the 8th World Health Organization Global Health meeting. Read her other blogs here.

It was good to hear Pekka Puska present Finland’s health promotion success which has resulted in an 80% reduction in cardiovascular disease over 30 years. He stressed that this has been a long term complex process. The Finns realised early on that victim blaming doesn’t work and that changing the environment is vital. So they regulated food supply so it was lower in fat and salt and worked with the food industry to encourage them to make food healthier. Subsidies for dairy products were reduced and dairy farmers were encouraged to change to berry farming. Finland’s experience raises the question of how governments globally can get “Big Food” to change its addiction to sugar and fat? more…

Fran Baum on economics and health at the WHO global health meeting

12 Jun, 13 | by BMJ

Fran Baum

Fran Baum is blogging from the 8th World Health Organization Global Health meeting. Read her other blogs here.

The day started with Cecilia Vaca Jones, the Minister of Social Development in Ecuador presenting some impressive indicators of Ecuador’s progress. They have tripled health and social spending between 2006 and 2012 with the aim of eradicating poverty. Over this period, inequities have declined and the gini co-efficient has reduced from 0.54 to 0.47. The approach has been multi-sectoral including improving housing, health, and education, and increasing pension coverage for older and disabled people. more…

Fran Baum on the globalisation of unhealthy lifestyles

11 Jun, 13 | by BMJ

Fran BaumFran Baum is blogging from the 8th World Health Organization Global Health meeting. Read her other blogs here.

Sauli Ninistö, President of Finland, opened the conference stressing that health is important for achieving other goals, but also has value in its own right. He spoke of Finland’s huge improvements in health since the 1940s achieved through investing the fruits of economic development in social and health infrastructure.

Congratulations to Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, for her powerful opening speech saying corporate interests on health pose a daunting challenge for health. She noted health is shaped by the “globalisation of unhealthy lifestyles,” leading to an epidemic of NCDs which is blowing out health budgets—e.g. diabetes consumes 15% of health budgets. Previously, progress has meant diseases vanished, whereas now NCDs are flourishing along with urbanisation and economic growth. more…

Fran Baum: From Ottawa to Helsinki—the 8th global conference on health promotion

10 Jun, 13 | by BMJ

Fran BaumIn 1986 the World Health Organisation held the first global conference on health promotion at which the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion was drafted and adopted. It has become the bible for health promoters with its five strategies of building healthy public policy, creating a supportive environment, strengthening community action, promoting individual skills and re-orienting health services. Today health promoters from around the world are gathering in Helsinki for the 8th conference on the theme of health in all policies. The deliberations this week in Helsinki will hopefully deepen the work of the commission on the social determinants of health (2008), and the political declarations issued from the Rio meeting on social determinants of health (2011), and the UN high level meeting on the prevention and control of non communicable diseases by determining how health can become a concern of all sectors. more…

Fran Baum: The conclusion of the Third People’s Health Assembly

13 Jul, 12 | by BMJ

Fran BaumThe last three plenary sessions of the Third People’s Health Assembly (PHA) were used to debate the People’s Health Movement’s (PHM) strategies and priorities for the future. These sessions enabled the health activists from around the world to build on their experiences, and devise the issues that the PHM will address in coming years. Key strategies agreed on were: strengthening country circles to act on the PHM’s Right to Health Campaign; a global campaign on the adverse health and environmental effects of extractive industries around the world; a food security campaign focusing on the health consequences of the growth of transnational food corporations, which are selling increasing amounts of high fat and sugar foods and drinks, and causing the obesity epidemic, as well as undermining indigenous food protection. Finally we agreed on a campaign against the privatisation of health services, which will document the ways in which public ownership and control of health services is being undermined by various forms of public private partnerships and outsourcing of previously publicly provided services. Each of these campaigns will form part of PHM’s broader focus on the right to health. more…

Fran Baum blogs from the People’s Health Assembly

12 Jul, 12 | by BMJ

Fran BaumDay two of the People’s Health Assembly focused on social and physical environments that destroy or promote health. Brian Ashley, South Africa, spoke eloquently about the shape of the climate crisis and its impact on health. I spoke about the reasons why there is so little action on the social determinants of health equity despite the strength of evidence on their impact. There were also testimonies from Marta Giane Torres about the impact of mining on the health of Amazon communities and Dan Owalla and colleagues spoke about how the People’s Health Movement in Kenya had supported community mobilisation in northern Kenya. more…

Fran Baum: Demanding health for all now

10 Jul, 12 | by BMJ

Fran Baum

The Third People’s Health Assembly got off to a rousing start yesterday with a plenary session addressed by the South African Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, who spoke of the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on his country  and also by Pat Anderson, chairperson of the Australian Lowitja Institute, who spoke passionately about the struggle of Aboriginal Australians to regain control over their land and of the health impact of centuries of dispossession and repression. The slogan of the Third People’s Health Assembly is “health for all now!” which harks back to World Health Organization’s unmet vision of health for all by the year 2000. It was fitting that the opening ceremony included a message from the Emeritus Director General of the WHO, Halfdan Mahler, who over saw the HFA2000 strategy and who stated that the People’s Health Movement (PHM) is now the loudest global voice for health equity. more…

Fran Baum: The conclusion of the Rio conference

24 Oct, 11 | by BMJ Group

Fran BaumThe final day of the Rio conference was on Friday and the official declaration from the conference still doesn’t deal with the underlying factors that are driving health inequalities between and within countries. Perhaps this is not surprising as addressing these factors (which include trade policy and the need to redistribute wealth more fairly) would directly challenge the global status quo of power and resources. The importance of these factors was emphasised by David Sanders (paediatrician, member of the People’s Health Movement, University of the Western Cape, South Africa) who, in one of the final plenary sessions, emphasised that both over and under nutrition have their roots in unfair trade. He also spoke of the “brain-robbery” that is draining Africa of its nurses and doctors as they leave to fill the gaps in rich countries. When he spoke many of the audience, especially civil society members, leapt to their feet and applauded loudly. Ron Labonte (University of Ottawa) gave a superb presentation on the impact of economic globalisation on health and laid bare the ways in which the existing status quo is, quite literally, killing us. The opening video shown on Friday morning also addressed the importance of challenging power structures, and the need for governments to regulate the private sector to promote and protect health. The video (see WCSDH website) emphasised the importance of the post-war social welfare systems and the need for governments to invest in the health and wellbeing of their citizens.  more…

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