Posted by: brittanyng | June 9, 2010

The World Health Report

Equivalent to massive and extensive scope-based school report card, the World Health Report is a document produced by the World Health Organization on a yearly basis since it was first published in 1995.  The report combines expert assessments of global health, provides statistics on every country, and focuses on a specific message each year.  It’s main purpose is to provide information.  Countries, donor agencies, international organizations, and others  are able to use it as a resource in order to make policy and funding decisions.  The average person with a professional or personal interest also has access to its information.

The most recent World Health Report is from 2008 and is titled “Now More Than Ever.”  As you can see from the cover to the left, the main focus of this report is the need for Primary Health Care renew.  From their extensive research and evidences, the WHO feels that with the weakening of community health systems globally, a renewed interest in strengthening the performance and quality of primary health care will greatly enhance our health system’s ability to respond to the challenges of a changing world.  In essence, a focus into the more fundamental aspects of community health systems will solve the problems created from globalization in our health systems.  This is their solution.

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Posted by: brittanyng | June 8, 2010

What is the U.S. doing?

Have you ever heard of USAID?  Me neither!  Apparently, our wonderful nation is not too far behind in the effort to improve and strengthen health systems on a global scale.  It could be argued that before we can go help other countries, we should make sure our own health system is sufficient and functional, but I have to admire the well-developed and thoughtful approach taken through this government organization.

Just a few words on the background of this organization: USAID’s impact dates back to post World War Two efforts towards reconstruction through the Marshall Plan.  In 1961, USAID was created by executive order after the Foreign Assistance Act was officially signed.  Since this time, USAID has been the principle U.S. agency to extend assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to escape poverty, and engaging in democratic reforms through supporting:

◊ economic growth, agriculture and trade;

◊ global health;

◊ democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance.

USAID offers assistance to the following regions: Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Carribbean, Europe and Eurasia, and the middle east.  This organization works in close contact with over 300 private voluntary organizations, indigenous organizations, universities, over 3,500 American businesses, international agencies, other governments, and other U.S. government agencies.  

Among their many activities, USAID has a health system strengthening program that works to ensure a developing country’s health systems are effective, efficient, and equitable.  The following is their long and thorough definition of a working health system:

“Fundamentally, a working health system improves health. It delivers the right volume and distribution of services using good provider-client interactions. It operates at the community, local, and national levels. A working health system uses effective organizations and processes. It engages households, governments, the private sector, donors, and global initiatives. It reaches priority groups, including the poor, women, children, urban and rural residents, and the acutely and chronically ill. It responds to people’s needs, protects them from risk, and operates efficiently. It combats priority health issues such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and maternal, child, and reproductive health. It works fairly, responsively, and effectively, and offers choice. It employs appropriate incentives and is characterized by strong political will and a viable vision.”

USAID has published the Health Systems Report to Congress:  Sustaining Health Gains- Building Systems – October 2009  highlighting their current efforts to strengthen health systems, their spending, and progress made.  It includes USAID efforts in the following activities:

♦ strengthen health systems in low-income countries

♦ strengthen health systems in post-conflict and conflict countries

♦ strengthen health system in more advanced developing countries

♦ promote best practices in research and international technical collaboration

♦ measure progress in health system strengthening

They used strategic process to target the most critical health system function needs in order to best educate and implement disease-specific programs in the community that would promote health and prevent disease, all for a cost that number in the billions.  There is no question that a lot of good has been done through this organization and its partners to promote health globally and strengthen health systems.

Posted by: brittanyng | June 8, 2010

The point

As my first blog post, I thought it was appropriate to alert the masses of my followers of the URGENT need recognized by World Health Organization Member States, and the world’s political and international health leaders for a major and sustained commitment to strengthening health systems.  With more political interest focused on this possible solution to the world’s health issues, many exciting efforts in health system strengthening  are in the process of being developed at this very moment!

Now, before we can really delve into how to fix the world, it is important to understand what is the point of all of these efforts.  What exactly is our goal in working to find these solutions to global health?  How will we even measure when the “globe” is “healthy”?  The answer can be found in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  These eight goals for international health were developed and agreed upon by the United Nations and international institutions to help the billions of people living on less than a dollar a day.  The following are the eight goals to be achieved by 2015:

1.  Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

2. Achieve Universal Primary Education

3. Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

4.  Reduce Child Mortality

5. Improve Maternal Health

6. Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

7.  Ensure Environmental Sustainability

8.  Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Many international organizations are coming together to work to achieve these goals, including the International Conference on the Role of NGOs in Global Governance, WHO, CDC, and more.  With many hopes surrounding the progress of the MDGs, some feel that achieving these goals will be impossible for many countries, as depicted by the following political cartoon:

The official countdown as of right NOW is 5 years, 206 days, 12 hours, 25 minutes, and 40 seconds.  Is it possible to achieve these goals by 2015?  What is being done to achieve them?  And what are we, you and I, doing to help it along?

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