There is little point waging expensive, high-tech war on individual diseases like AIDS and malaria in societies where the fundamentals of good health – clean water and sanitation –are still lacking, according to Flinders University’s Professor Fran Baum.
Professor Baum headed the Adelaide launch of Global Health Watch 2: An Alternative World Health Report on Thursday, December 4 in the Noel Stockdale Room of the Central Library at Flinders University.
Compiled by international university researchers and non-government and community-based health organisations, the report covers a comprehensive range of topics, including access to medicines, mental health, water and sanitation, nutrition, and war and conflict.
Professor Baum, who heads the Department of Public Health at Flinders and is co-chair of the People’s Health Movement, Australia, said the report is part report card and part lobbying tool, and aims to provide hard evidence to back calls for change to the broader political systems that shape health.
Professor Baum said while the injection of resources from bodies like the Gates Foundation was positive, funds should be directed to national ministries of health to enable them to strengthen their health systems.
“Priorities need to be driven by individual countries, rather than by external donors,” she said.
Professor Baum said many developing nations continue to be burdened by international debt, hampering any attempts to improve health standards.
“With the current overhaul of financial systems globally, now is a good time to look at getting international agreements that are much fairer – at the moment they’re very much stacked in favour of the countries that have the resources,” she said.
Also speaking at the launch will be Mrs Elizabeth Harris, Director of the Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation. She will speak on health issues that flow from climbing unemployment rates around the world.
(Source: Global Health Watch 2: An Alternative World Health Report: Flinders University: December 2008)