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Health 2.0: Health for All, Health by All

17 November 2009 No Comment

white-african-mobile-phoneYoung Voices in Research for Health 2009, an annual joint publication by the Global Forum on Health Research and the Lancet is just out, and here’s an excerpt of my contribution (you can also read the full article on Scribd or download the pdf if you want.)

The godparents of global health meeting at Alma Ata may not have had BlackBerrys or MacBooks, but if they were to meet again now, they would almost certainly include technology in their toolkits for promoting health for all.  In the next few pages, we will look at how technology driven health interventions are important tools to address the obstacles to health for all.  As well, we will see how technology helps us move beyond health for all to enable health by all, where individuals become real actors in their own health.

In September 1978, at the International Conference on Primary Health Care, participants laid out the principles of universal primary health care in the Declaration of Alma Ata.  These principles were seen as steps to reaching an “acceptable level of health for all the people of the world by the year 2000” (ICPHC, 1978).  Nearly 10 years on from that deadline, the world still faces an overwhelming burden of infectious and chronic disease.

According to the most recent World Health Report “on the whole, people are healthier, wealthier and live longer today than 30 years ago…but the substantial progress in health over recent decades has been deeply unequal” (WHO, 2008).  The persistent inequality in health outcomes between and within countries has prevented the vision at Alma Ata from being realized.  Newer targets, such as the Millennium Development Goals have also remained out of our reach.

Yet, as we begin to stretch our legs in the new millennium, the tools at our disposal are changing.  Even as weak health systems, too few health care providers, and insufficient funding and commitment have worked as obstacles to reaching our health goals, we have an opportunity to overcome these obstacles by adapting our approach. In fact, the social media revolution at the start of the 21st century has allowed technology-based health tools to emerge that are changing the face of sickness and disease all over the world.  In particular, technology is changing the relationship between patient and expert…Read More>>

(photo credit: WhiteAfrican…a technology for development guru)

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