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Suchita Shah: The lamb’s mother and the room of hope

18 Feb, 13 | by BMJ Group

suchita_shah A day in the life of a Chilean family doctor

She wipes her eyes with the backs of her hands. A thin circle of white skin against the dark tan of her left ring finger is the only visible sign of her recent loss. She sits in the ‘sala de espera’. Esperar, in Spanish, means ‘to wait’, but also ‘to hope’. She sits in the room of hope. A room where thirty other souls hope, and (this being a Catholic country) pray, that their lives may become a little better after the meeting with the medico. more…

Amanda Glassman et al: A post 2015 development goal for health—should it be universal health coverage?

25 Sep, 12 | by BMJ

As 2015 approaches and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire, the global health community is discussing the options for the next set of international goals for health. In the current set of MDGs, there are multiple goals that directly and indirectly relate to health (see below). Today, there is some worry that the next set of development goals will leave health out, as became apparent during the Rio+20 meeting. Certain groups—led by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Rockefeller Foundation, and US government contractors—have been calling for “universal coverage” or “universal health coverage” (UHC) as an “umbrella” goal for health. more…

Richard Smith: An open blog to Prime Minister David Cameron

3 Aug, 12 | by BMJ Group

Richard Smith Dear prime minister,

I heard you give an inspiring speech earlier this week about how Britain was “open for business,” particularly in the life sciences. But when I arrived home I found a desperate email from an Indian friend, a professor of cardiology, describing a most awful plight that the British visa system has inflicted on him. Your words may, I fear, come across as empty and even hypocritical if you cannot improve our visa system, which the London Evening Standard newspaper says is the worst in Europe. more…

Stephen Ginn: “Moral obligation” or “a disaster for humanity and the planet?”

24 May, 12 | by BMJ

Stephen GinnIs medical control of human aging a worthy goal?

Despite the moisturisers you can buy it is impossible to reverse the damage of aging and very few of us will live to anywhere near the theoretical maximum of human age, estimated to be 125. Yet some people think the first person who will live substantially longer than this is alive today.

Aubrey de Grey is one of them.  He was recently speaking at a debate at the Oxford University Scientific Society, for the motion “This house wants to defeat aging entirely.”  De Grey is the chief scientific officer of the SENS foundation and a cheer leader for bringing aging under medical control.  “This is no longer a radical heretical idea” he says; for de Grey defeating aging is at the heart what medicine is about. And when we treat aging, longevity is a welcome side effect. more…

Gabriel Scally: on the WHO general assembly in Geneva

23 May, 12 | by BMJ

As I queued in the rain to get through security I pondered life in a non-governmental organisation (NGO) rather than a Ministry of Health. It rarely makes the headlines in the press but every year the World Health Organization (WHO) has its general assembly in Geneva. It brings together government delegations from member countries from across the world to debate key health issues and set the strategic direction for the organisation. It’s also a honey pot for NGOs and lobbyists of various forms. Previously I have attended as part of the UK delegation, but this year I am attending this, the 65th World Health Assembly, on behalf of the World Federation of Public Health Organisations. Country delegates are exempt security checks but people from NGOs, and the press, have to queue to go through scanners as in an airport. The segregation also means, among other indignities, that one can’t walk into the main meeting rooms by the main doors, but have to enter the room by an anonymous back door. No wonder NGOs are critical of WHO and the role they are allocated. more…

Amanda Glassman on the difficult task of setting priorities at the WHO

17 May, 12 | by BMJ Group

As country delegations prepare for the 65th session of the World Health Assembly next week, the reform of the institution itself is only one topic on a list of 20 agenda items and 52 sub-items to be considered by the organisation’s governing bodies.

Setting priorities and fully funding those priorities has been a challenge for the organization; WHO currently runs 213 projects directed by eight organisational divisions and 15 regional and special offices.  In the context of limited resources with no explicit criteria to prioritize budgetary allocations, and no checks on new resolutions and declarations, underfunded and inadequately staffed “priorities” have multiplied, leading to a widening gap between the organization’s aspirational rhetoric and its capacity to deliver concrete results. more…

Richard Smith: Can Devi Shetty make healthcare affordable across the globe?

8 May, 12 | by BMJ Group

Richard SmithIt’s impossible not to be impressed by Devi Shetty, heart surgeon and the “the Henry Ford of healthcare.” We can be impressed by his surgical skill and his refusal to turn away the poor. But perhaps even more impressive is his entrepreneurship and his vision of making healthcare affordable for everybody. more…

Devi Shetty: India will become the first country in the world to dissociate health care from affluence

8 May, 12 | by BMJ Group

I believe the economy of the 21st century will be driven by the health sector. The economy of the 20th century was driven by machines which addressed human toil. The health sector can create millions of jobs for the extremely skilled, semi skilled, and unskilled workers.

These jobs are  vital for the stability of society.  Lack of employment is the root cause of unrest in the world today.  The health sector is also in a unique position to create millions of jobs for women. A woman coming from lower economic strata becomes empowered when she finds employment.  Empowered women will discipline and educate their children, who will in turn have the discipline and desire to build a great nation when they grow up. more…

Philippe Chastonnay, Beat Stoll, Bruce Currey: Can donors focus on birth weights after Busan?

8 Dec, 11 | by BMJ Group

The new inclusive “Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation” resulting from the 4th high level forum on aid effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, issued on 1st December does not include children or newborn babies. more…

Philipp du Cros on drug resistant tuberculosis

16 Jan, 09 | by BMJ

Philipp du Cros My name is Philipp du Cros and I work in the Manson Unit of Médecins Sans Frontières UK, providing assistance to our programmes treating tuberculosis (TB). This year I have worked in five countries in Africa and Asia, with a particular focus on trying to improve care for patients with drug resistant TB. I wanted my guest blog entry to show how the generous donations* we receive are spent in a not so typical context. more…

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