Monitoring equity and research policy

Why mothers choose to enrol their children in malaria clinical studies and the involvement of relatives in decision making: Evidence from Malawi
Masiye F, Kass N, Hyder A, Ndebele P and Mfutso-Bengo J: Malawi Medical Journal 20(2): 38–40, 2008

This study was aimed at researching the reasons why mothers enrol their children in malaria clinical research and how family members or relatives are involved in the decision-making process. Issues related to informed consent were also a particular focus of this study. A total of 81 participants took part in eight focus group discussions, all of whom were mothers whose children had participated or were participating in Intermittent Prevention Therapy post-discharge (IPTpd) malaria research. Most of the participants reported that they chose to participate in the IPTpd research as a way of accessing better quality medical care and to benefit from the material and monetary incentives that were being given to participants for their participation. There was also a sense of trust in health workers who asked the potential participants to join the research. Most participants decide to take part in malaria research because of better medical treatment. Partners and relatives played a very small role in their decision-making process.

Why passion has a place at a health systems symposium: reflections on Cape Town 2014
Balabanova D, Lazarus J: Health System Global, October 2014

Passion. It is not a word that is used often in the health systems discourse, and it may be the last word that people outside of health systems circles would associate with our work. But, the authors argue in this blog, passion is what emerged throughout the recent Third Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Cape Town, South Africa. Across two jam-packed days of satellite events and another three days of conference sessions, the 1,700 participants from 92 countries collectively made the symposium into a unique teaching, learning and networking opportunity. Whether people approach health systems from the realms of academia, policy-making, civil society or elsewhere, they are excited about the potential for the levers of various forms of health systems to be triggered in ways that will make the world a healthier and more equitable place. Being able to share that excitement with other people is an invaluable and invigorating experience. In early 2015, the leadership of Health Systems Global is likely to develop concrete strategies and initiatives to foster a more diverse membership base and encourage representation of more regions and countries in the global health systems discourse.

Why we need urban health equity indicators: Integrating science, policy, and community
Corburn J and Cohen AK: PLoS Medicine 9(8), 14 August 2012

As the urban population of the planet increases, putting new stress on infrastructure and institutions and exacerbating economic and social inequalities, public health and other disciplines are being forced to find new ways to address urban health equity. The authors propose that urban indicator processes focused on health equity can promote new modes of healthy urban governance, where the formal functions of government combine with science and social movements to define a healthy community and direct policy action. An inter-related set of urban health equity indicators that capture the social determinants of health, including community assets, and to track policy decisions, can help inform efforts to promote greater urban health equity. Adaptive management, a strategy used globally by scientists, policy makers, and civil society groups to manage complex ecological resources, is a potential model for developing and implementing urban health equity indicators. While urban health equity indicators are lacking and needed within cities of both the global north and south, the authors warn that universal sets of indicators may be less useful than context-specific measures accountable to local needs.

Will developing countries benefit from their participation in genetics research?
Ndebele P and Musesengwa R: Malawi Medical Journal 20(2):67–69, 2008

There is an increase in the amount of genetics research being conducted in both developed and limited-resource countries. Most of this research is sponsored by developed countries. There are concerns in limited-resource countries on how the benefits from this research are currently being shared or will be shared in the future. There is need for caution to ensure that populations from limited-resource countries are not exploited by being used as subjects in genetics research that is meant to benefit populations from developed countries. This paper addresses the issue of fairness in benefits sharing and argues for justice in the sharing of both burdens and benefits of genetics research. The paper responds to some of the issues and arguments in recent literature on the meaning and limits of the concept of benefit-sharing in human genetics research.

WIPO's ARDI Programme joins Research4Life
World Intellectual Property Organisation: September 2011

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has joined the Research4Life partnership, which enables free or low-cost online access in the developing world to vital scientific research. With a particular focus on applied science and technology, Access to Research for Development and Innovation (ARDI) seeks to reinforce the capacity of developing countries to participate in the global knowledge economy and to support researchers in developing countries in the innovation process to create and develop new solutions to technical challenges faced on local and global levels. ARDI includes a growing network of Technology and Innovation Support Centres (TISCs) based in universities and research centres around the world, whose trained staff support local users in effectively accessing and exploiting technological knowledge.

World Bank health work flawed yet still pushing for privatisation of services
United Nations Development Programme: June 2009

This World Bank Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) report on almost $18 billion worth of health, nutrition and population work covered projects from 1997 to 2008 by the World Bank. It rated 220 projects according to how well they met stated objectives, regardless of how good those objectives were. Highly satisfactory outcomes were almost unheard of, and only about two-thirds of projects had moderately satisfactory outcomes or better. Projects in Africa were ‘particularly weak’, with only 27% achieving satisfactory outcomes. Overall only 29% of freestanding HIV projects had satisfactory outcomes, falling to 18% in Africa. Repeating a consistent criticism of past reports, the IEG found that monitoring and evaluation (M&E) ‘remains weak’, while ‘evaluation is almost nonexistent’. Only 27% of projects had ‘substantial or high’ M&E structures. This has led to ‘irrelevant objectives, inappropriate project designs, unrealistic targets, inability to measure the effectiveness of interventions.’ Even those projects that meet their objectives ‘may be performing at substantially lower levels than their outcomes would suggest’.

World Health Statistics 2007
World Health Organization , 2007

World health statistics 2007, published by the World Health Organization (WHO), presents the most recent health statistics for WHO’s 193 Member States. The core set of indicators was selected on the basis of their relevance to global health, the availability and quality of the data, and the accuracy and comparability of estimates. The core indicators do not aim to capture all relevant aspects of health but to provide a comprehensive summary of the current status of a population’s health and the health system at country level. These indicators include: mortality outcomes, morbidity outcomes, risk factors, coverage of selected health interventions, health systems, inequalities in health, and demographic and socioeconomic statistics.

World Health Statistics 2009
World Health Organization: August 2009

World Health Statistics 2009 contains the World Health Organization’s (WHO's) annual compilation of data from its 193 member states, and includes a summary of progress towards the health-related millennium development goals and targets. This edition also contains a new section on reported cases of selected infectious diseases. It provides a comprehensive summary of the current status of national health and health systems including; mortality and burden of disease, causes of death, reported infectious diseases, health service coverage, risk factors, health systems resources, health expenditures, inequities and demographic and socioeconomic statistics. The section on inequities presents statistics on the distribution of selected health outcomes and interventions within countries, disaggregated by sex, age, urban and rural settings, wealth and educational level. It is an integral part of WHO’s ongoing effort to inform better measures of population health and national health systems.

World Health Statistics 2010
World Health Organization: 10 May 2010

The World Health Statistics series is the World Health Organization's annual compilation of health-related data for its 193 member states, and includes a summary of the progress made towards achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and associated targets. As with previous versions, World Health Statistics 2010 has been compiled using publications and databases produced and maintained by the technical programmes and regional offices of WHO. Indicators have been included on the basis of their relevance to global public health; the availability and quality of the data; and the reliability and comparability of the resulting estimates. Taken together, these indicators provide a comprehensive summary of the current status of national health and health systems in the following nine areas: mortality and burden of disease; cause-specific mortality and morbidity; selected infectious diseases; health service coverage; risk factors; health workforce, infrastructure and essential medicines; health expenditure; health inequities; and demographic and socioeconomic statistics. With only five years remaining to 2015, the report notes that there are signs of progress in many countries in achieving the health-related MDGs. In other countries, progress has been limited because of conflict, poor governance, economic or humanitarian crises, and lack of resources. The effects of the global food, energy, financial and economic crises on health are still unfolding, and action is needed to protect the health spending of governments and external funders alike.

World health statistics 2017: monitoring health for the SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals
World Health Organization: WHO, Geneva, 2017

The World Health Statistics series is World Health Organisation’s annual compilation of health statistics for its 194 Member States. World Health Statistics 2017 focuses on the health and health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and associated targets by bringing together data on a wide range of relevant SDG indicators. World Health Statistics 2017 is organised into three parts. In Part 1, six lines of action are described which WHO is now promoting to help build better systems for health and to achieve the health and health-related SDGs. In Part 2, the status of selected health-related SDG indicators is summarised, at both global and regional level, based on data available as of early 2017. Part 3 then presents a selection of stories that highlight recent successful efforts by countries to improve and protect the health of their populations through one or more of the six lines of action. Annexes A and B present country level estimates for selected health-related SDG indicators. As in previous years, World Health Statistics 2017 has been compiled primarily using publications and databases produced and maintained by WHO or United Nations groups of which WHO is a member, such as the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation.

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