The World Mortality Report 2005 provides a broad overview of mortality changes in all countries of the world during the latter half of the 20th century. The main objective of this report is to compile and summarise available information about levels and trends of mortality and life expectancy for national populations; allowing a comparison of mortality data from different sources, and permitting an assessment of gaps in information, as well as insight on performance with respect to Millenium Development Goals.
Monitoring equity and research policy
Primary health care (PHC) in South Africa forms an integral part of both the country's health policies and health system and has been prioritised as a major strategy in achieving health for all. On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Alma Ata Declaration, PHC is once again in the spotlight. How far have we come in the last 30 years? How far in the last three? The third edition of the District Health Barometer, the 2006/07 report sheds some light by monitoring the trend of key health and financial indicators in PHC over the last three years by district and province.
At the Berlin 9 conference, held in Washington DC, United States from 9-10 November 2011, it was announced that 33 research institutions, associations and foundations in North America have added their signatures to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, committing to support open access research in the future. The signing brings the total signatories to nearly 300, including many of the top research institutions in the world. The Berlin Declaration aims to ‘make scientific and scholarly research more accessible to the broader public by taking full advantage of the possibilities offered by digital electronic communication.’
“….The number of think tanks worldwide has expanded rapidly over the last two decades as government becomes more receptive to evidence-based policy solutions and seeks new solutions in rapidly changing political environments. What they all have in common is a wish to capture the political imagination; they aim to use their insight to have political impact. This handbook addresses various factors that need to be considered in this process, and provides a comprehensive selection of tools that can be used when attempting to turn research into policy influence…"
The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a report, August 2001, that proposes a research agenda for the NIH related to the social and cultural dimensions of health. The focus of the report is on the development of health-related research in the social sciences. The report, "Toward Higher Levels of Analysis: Progress and Promise in Research on Social and Cultural Dimensions of Health," is based on recommendations made by participants in an OBSSR-sponsored conference held on June 27-28, 2000. The report reflects the belief that the continuing development and advancement of social sciences research are critical to the "future success of studies integrating all levels of analysis, from the molecular to the community or nation".
In the 2011 Rio Political Declaration on Social Determinants of Health, World Health Organization Member States pledged action in five areas crucial for addressing health inequities. Their pledges referred to better governance for health and development, greater participation in policymaking and implementation, further reorientation of the health sector towards reducing health inequities, strengthening of global governance and collaboration, and monitoring progress and increasing accountability. The authors describe the selection of indicators proposed to be part of the initial World Health Organization global system for monitoring action on the social determinants of health. The authors describe the processes and criteria used for selecting social determinants of health action indicators that were of high quality and the described the challenges encountered in creating a set of metrics for capturing government action on addressing the Rio Political Declaration’s five Action Areas. The authors developed 19 measurement concepts, identified and screened 20 indicator databases and systems, including the 223 Sustainable Development Goals indicators, and applied strong criteria for selecting indicators for the core indicator set. They identified 36 suitable existing indicators, which were often Sustainable Development Goals indicators.
This paper implemented a qualitative analysis of wellbeing in life history interviews in Chiawa, rural Zambia. The enquiry goes beyond simply reading across methods, disciplines and contexts, to consider fundamental differences in constructions of the human subject, and how these relate to understandings of wellbeing. Field research took place in two periods, August–November, 2010 and 2012. Analysis drew on 46 individual case studies, conducted through open-ended interviews. These were identified through a survey with an average of 390 male and female household heads in each round, including 25% female headed households. As social determinants theory predicts, the interviews confirm elements of autonomy, competence and relatedness as vital to wellbeing. However, these are expressed in ways that highlight material and relational, rather than psychological, factors. The authors endorsed social determinants theory’s utility in interdisciplinary approaches to wellbeing, but only if it admits its own cultural grounding in the construction of socially and culturally distinctive questions on basic psychological needs.
According to this paper, science is increasingly being applied to systems that are complex, non-linear and dynamic, including questions about climate, environment, society, health and human behaviour, with limited results. At the beginning of the 21st century, policy makers and their expert advisors are working in an environment where the values and outputs of science are questioned by an increasingly informed, involved and vociferous society. Science and technology are now focused on complex systems, in part because it is around such complexity that governments must make decisions. Broadly, improvement in the use of science-based evidence is likely to be gradual and incremental and will require ‘buy-in’ from many stakeholders. The author argues that progress will be dependent on attitudes and approaches taken by agency heads. Other areas may need additional work – for example in establishing across-government principles for protecting the integrity of scientific advice.
This report explores evidence of success in environmental justice (EJ) activism on socio-environmental mining conflicts by applying a collaborative statistical approach, combining qualitative and quantitative methods. The empirical evidence covers 346 mining cases from around the world in the EJOLT Atlas of Environmental Justice, and is enriched by an interactive discussion of results with activists and experts. The authors used a social network analysis to study the nature of the relationships both among corporations involved in the mining activity, on the one hand, and among EJ organisations, on the other. Multivariate analysis methods were used to examine the defining factors in achieving EJ success and qualitative analysis, based on descriptive statistics, was conducted to investigate factors that configure the perception of success for EJ and incorporate activist knowledge into the theory of EJ. The authors argue that overall, such analytical exercises, coproduced with activists, should be seen as a source of engaged knowledge creation, which is increasingly being recognised as a pertinent method to inform scientific debate with policy implications, and that it can also be insightful and relevant for activism.
The overarching aim of this study is to develop a GIS-based planning approach that contributes to equitable and efficient provision of urban health services in cities in sub-Saharan Africa. The broader context of the study is the 'urban health crisis', namely the disparity between the increasing need for medical care in urban areas and declining carrying capacity of existing public health systems. The analysis proposes a 'what if' type of planning approach designed to evaluate and improve the spatial performance of the Dar es Salaam governmental health care system. It illustrates how more sophisticated GIS-based analytical techniques can be usefully applied to strategic spatial planning of urban health services delivery. Its evaluation framework appraises the performance of the existing Dar es Salaam governmental health delivery system on the basis of generic quantitative accessibility indicators, while its intervention framework explores how existing health needs can better be served by proposing alternative spatial arrangements of provision using scarce health resources. Health planners will be able to detect spatial deficiencies of a given delivery system, propose priority spatial planning interventions and estimate the expected impact of potential interventions on spatial performance.