“Every year almost 9 million children and infants die from preventable causes.”
“1 in 5 children are now over weight. Childhood obesity is 10 times higher than it was in 1970.”
“Poverty and disease in any one country has an impact on every other country because we are all living in an age where national borders should matter less and humanity matters more.”
These are some of the quotes that Judith Rodin, the president of Rockefeller Foundation stated over the opening session of The First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (HSR). The symposium was held in Montreux, Switzerland from November 16-19, 2010. The event was hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners in order to scale up better health systems research.
Judith pointed out that the challenges of polio and yellow fever which were faced in the last century have now been replaced by bigger challenges of HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, Diabetes and other devastating diseases.
Apart from this, many communities in developing countries are plagued by weak health systems which are insufficient to deliver life saving interventions to the poor.
There is an urgent need to increase public awareness to put more pressure to the governments. The government should spend for their social safety and health protection. Citizens need to be empowered in order to demand simple access to appropriate health care services for all at an affordable cost.
As we are moving into the final stretch of Millennium Development Goals the Rockefeller Foundation aims to make “transformation of health systems” as its revolutionary goal. This would require sharing of experiences between partnerships of countries, finding sustainable solutions, improving human resources and scaling up specific health services.
According to Robin that Universal Health Coverage would mean better health outcomes, greater equity and lower poverty. All of these can happen. Achieving universal health coverage is not so much about mobilizing more capital, but it is more about reorganizing health financing at country level.
Ghana spent approximately 150 million dollars in institutional reforms over the last 6 years. In India, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, they have invested more than 60 million dollars within 3 years on infrastructure. Thus, they were able to scale up population coverage from 10% to 85% which includes hospitalization and surgery.
“We believe that these success will lead to other good results, only if international communities would learn from these achievements and replicate this model in the other parts of the world,” she added.
It has to be a three attainable action plans. Firstly, we need more negotiations and more dependable data to guide the efforts of the countries. They need more research on mechanism that links universal health coverage with poverty and deprivation.
Secondly, we need to provide national governments with the technical and financial support that they need to transform their health systems.
Lastly, we need to make the case that health sector reforms for universal health coverage are sound financial investments and should be a priority for all national governments.
According to Judith, the Rockefeller Foundation, has been proud to support the great idea behind this conference in Montreux. The shared ideas will become the foundation for a movement to bring health care towards the common goal of universal health coverage.
They have also adopted several strategies for acting on this imperative such as dedicated resources to support research on universal health coverage. They established new centers for research and training on universal health coverage in Bangladesh and Vietnam and others.
The Rockefeller Foundation has also support from other nations to bring up national health reforms by convening cross border partnerships by holding workshops for health
At the end of the speech, Judith mentioned the song of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, that he wrote in Montreux.
“It is about the place that is most quiet and magnificent – a place filled with great possibilities. In his words, it’s a kind of magic in the air, with the dreams of the world in the palm of your hand. During your work in this conference, remember that you hold the world’s dreams in the palm of your hand. We know where to start, we know how to start. So let’s begin here.”
And now let me pass these dreams of the world into the palm of your hand.