Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Global Health Council 3: From Grassroots to Policy

The special session Primary Health Care: A New Vision for the Fourth Decade just finished.  WHO Director-General Margaret Chan was in attendance, but is not speaking until later in the day.  I missed the beginning, so I’m just sharing some select comments.

Dr. Ahbay Bang, director of Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health (SEARCH) in India.  [Right now he’s not listed as a speaker on that panel, but he was there.]

He described research as the vehicle for grassroots work to affect policy.  Three key points he addressed:

  1. Research must begin with people, not libraries.  He described how he gets new research ideas “from the people”.  In Geneva some years back, his colleagues asked him “How come you can see problems 10 years ahead of time?”  HIs response? “I’m 10 years nearer to the people.” The secret, which he shared with us today, was having the community help define the research problems.
  2. “Meticulous, rigorous measurement”.  (“Nothing exists unless it is measured.”)
  3. Research also needs to be about equity.  We need to go beyond the clinical, epidemiological, legal, and biomedical research to consider the political, cultural, economic, and organizational.
One statement that evoked applause from the audience – at a time when applause wasn’t expected – came from PAHO director Mirta Roses Periago in response to a question about why primary healthcare had failed over the last 30 years: “Primary healthcare didn’t fail.  It was crushed.”
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Written by Jaspal

May 30, 2008 at 9:32 am

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