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China embraces rural health research

China is undergoing a radical shift in its health policy towards the poorest, particularly in rural areas, and research is playing a major role. Here Gerald Bloom, visiting Professor at Beijing Normal University, co-chair of the China Health Development Forum, and Fellow of the Institute of Development Studies in Sussex, UK, tells the story, with lessons for the world about the relation between research and policy-making.

Dying mothers: from the evidence to political will

Mothers die overwhelmingly because they are poor - but this gives an opportunity for targeted action

(May 07)

Health arises from empowerment

Evidence leads to a radical conclusion - even when care is provided, empowerment matters

WHO's Commission on Social Determinants of Health is due to report in 2008. Its Chairman, Sir Michael Marmot, here tells RealHealthNews his apolitical, but radical philosophy based on evidence, his hopes, and broad conclusions.

How Kenya doubled its health budget

Minister Charity Ngilu puts the politics in health

The Ministry of Health and health services in Kenya received a refreshing boost from the departing Minister of Health, past Presidential candidate Charity Ngilu. But it hasn't been easy. Here she puts health, and research for health, into its full political context.

How to face donors with a health plan

Many of our problems are to do with the donors, says past Mozambique Minister of Health, so we'll do things differently

Francisco Songane, Director, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and past Minister of Health for Mozambique, tells what health aid can look like from a country perspective: disrespectful and ignorant. But with other partners Mozambique developed a national health plan, and held its ground against PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, showing how countries can forge a different relationship with international aid. The Partnership will follow this model – working with countries to solve problems together.

Let's make health systems work

The Alliance for Health Systems and Policy Research will expand health systems science globally, and put it to work for policy-makers. Manager Sara Bennett tells RealHealthNews how.

The communication of research to policy is a little-studied art, and needs the synthesis of results by knowledge brokers, and testing in focused, country-level contexts, argues Sara Bennett of the AHPSR. Health systems research itself is also deeply contextual, and much more investment in multicountry studies is needed if we are to provide good evidence to policy-makers, she says.

(May 07)

Mafia house

According to the Millennium Challenge Corporation , “…A 2005 ‘Independent Procurement Review’, conducted jointly by Kenya and the European Union…, identified the Ministry of Health and its medical supplies procurement and delivery body, the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA), as being particularly susceptible to waste, fraud and abuse throughout the procurement and delivery process…”.

Net giveaway saves lives, changes WHO policy

Sometimes health policy can be turned into science, with advantage to all. Insecticide-treated bed nets (ITN) usage has increased rapidly in Kenya from 7% in 2004 to 67% in 2006, so “we aimed to assess the extent to which this investment has led to improvements in child survival” write the authors of a recent paper in The Lancet.

Shopping for health care

Nurses and researchers tell us how micro-franchising works

Nurses running Child and Family Welfare Shop outlets in villages and a slum, the Executive Director of the enterprise and TDR researchers take the real measure of micro-franchised healthcare. Is it sustainable? Is it the solution for health care in Africa, or just a welcome small addition?

Sierra Leone wants science to save mothers

Abator Thomas, Minister of Health for Sierra Leone, explains why she seeks evidence for her policy-making.

Mothers are dying at the rate of three jumbo planeloads each day, at or near the birth of their children. Most are dying in Asia and in Africa - which brought the Minister of Health for Sierra Leone to London recently to hear the conclusions of a global study on the issue, the Immpact research initiative.

(May 07)

The politics of protest

The Nation ( Nairobi), 2 August 2022

“An MP yesterday asked the police to arrest Health minister Charity Ngilu for raiding and releasing a suspect from a Nairobi police station. Mr Joseph Nkaissery (Kajiado Central, Kanu), said he was shocked to hear that the minister had stormed into the police station, on Tuesday night, and released one of the handful of demonstrators, who had earlier been arrested outside Parliament.

When Zimbabwe was willing

Bloom's route from Africa to China

Pandemic flu - how to protect the world

We urgently need a vaccine, and meanwhile must rely on keeping people apart. Research on the social challenge to developing countries could be "very important"

WHO's Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases, David Heymann, speaking to RealHealthNews in early April, outlines the challenges - both technical and political - facing the world in protecting us from the next influenza pandemic.

(May 07)

Burkina gives science a warm embrace

Research is an aid not only to good health policies – but even to political success, say ministers

In a interview with RealHealthNews and Burkina TV (RTB) during the annual general and scientific meeting of INDEPTH, the international network of focal demographic surveillance sites, Burkina Faso’s ministers of research and of health revealed that they are impressed by the power and potential of science to solve problems – even when its results are politically sensitive.

A passion for fungi - and research

Cryptococcus led from fascination to research directorship

Elizabeth Castañeda is a leading figure in Colombian and international research, working on opportunistic infections in AIDS, pneumonia and meningitis, identifying vrulence factors and helping to develop vaccines. Not least, she has played a major role in opening up Colombian health research to the world.

Iran's women investigate health priorities

Volunteer women researchers are determining Iran's health and development needs

Hossein Malekafzali, Deputy for Research and Technology, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Iran, explains how community volunteers - who are mostly women - are helping with Iran's health research and decision-making. Other countries should do it, he says.

Science beats ideology

Julio Frenk, Mexico's health minister says science can help face special interests

The scientific rationality of the massive study, Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries (DCP2), and its claim that achieving better health is a "technical" and not a political matter, may just cut through the tangle of interests and politics that holds back better health for the poorest. Julio Frenk thinks so. He says science can help challenge special interests and ideologies.

Kenya's hardy women researchers

Women in health research must fight gender stereotyping

Kenya needs more women health researchers, but gender stereotypes, exploitation and rejection may face them in the research community. It is time that attitudes changed, for the good of health research, says Monique Wasunna, Deputy Director of the Kenyan Medical Research Institute, KEMRI.

Politics needs ideas - statistics come later

Quantification is the bane of social medicine

Researching HIV/AIDS and rape victims in Kenya, and bringing her conclusions before policy-makers, have taught Nduku Kilonzo of the fundamental importance of verbal analysis and argument - both to clarifying understanding the issues, and to converting them into political response. Academia and donors should not be in thrall to statistics.

Scientific health insurance in China

China's massive New Rural Cooperative Medical Scheme is listening to relevant science

Wu Ming, Professor of Health Policy at Peking University School of Public Health has been researching China's New Rural Cooperative Medical Scheme in depth. She tells RealHealthNews that Central Government is to be praised for listening to its scientists, while researchers are responding to the needs of policy-makers.

"Big Pharma must tackle global health – to survive" explains Tachi Yamada

“Seminal” GSK experience in South Africa will inspire new Gates chief. (May 06)

Could river blindness lead the way?

From women researchers to community control of health, APOC holds many of the answers for Africa.

Uche Amazigo, now Director of the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC), in 1991 discovered the terrible burden of this parasitic disease carried by river-flies – not in the form of “river blindness” in the elderly, then considered its main burden – but as life-altering skin disease in young women. She argues passionately for more women scientists in Africa – to study the specific health problems women face, that they won’t reveal to men; explains APOC’s success in giving communities control of their own treatment; argues for a continuum between research, policy and implementation; and rails against governments’ failure to care for their people.

(May 06)

The Ministers’ magic moment: a cookbook for disease control

The Ministers’ magic moment: a cookbook for disease control

First, take 900 scientists and health experts from around the world. Second, identify the world’s most cost-effective health interventions. Third, tell the world. Fourth, over to you, Ministers: turn them into action.

Dean Jamison, Editor-in-Chief of the extraordinary Disease Control Priorities Project, recently launched in Beijing, tells RealHealthNews the back-story and discusses some recommendations.

(May 06)

Evidence, empowerment and education

Advisor to the Editors of Disease Control Priorities Project, Pramilla Senanayake, says it should become the “bible” for health and finance ministers. Chair of the Global Forum for Health Research Foundation Council, she gives RealHealthNews her life’s vision for evidence for health, for research and development – and for women’s education.

(May 06)

Just listen: research and activism can walk hand-in-hand

Social determinants and health systems research should underpin real health and change, but the subjects are still neglected, says Ravi Narayan.

Completing his three-year term as co-ordinator of the Global Secretariat of the People’s Health Movement – before it moves to the Middle East – activist researcher Ravi Narayan, a member of the Foundation Council of the Global Forum, speaks of the necessity for all groups working towards people’s health, including researchers, to listen to each other. Hard evidence is essential for progress he says – especially evidience collected and analysed by researchers in least developed countries.

(May 06)

Dramatic boost for neglected diseases research

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, co-founded by MSF, receives its first major government grant – “and it’s core funding”, the DNDi Director tells RealHealthNews.

(March 06)

Research for free health

Regina Keith, Global Health Advisor at Save the Children tells RealHealthNews why this is a critical moment for research on health financing.

The NGO Save the Children hoped to use Sri Lanka as a global model to show the success of free primary health care – and researched and reported their case thoroughly. Still the world didn’t notice. But they think strategically, and have new plans on how to turn research into action, with North-South “research coalitions” with Africa and Latin America getting to work as user fees are cut.

(Mar 06)

Mumbai pharma plans new drugs for all

Nicholas Piramal, India’s number two pharma company, is ignoring generics and relying on R&D. First in the pipeline: a new low-cost cancer drug.

When the Director of Nicholas Piramal speaks of a global market, she means it – drugs affordable for five billion people. Moreover she’s reversed the brain drain, and attracted successful Indian research scientists back home from Western Big Pharma. She aims to use R&D to make the first totally Indian pharmaceutical. Here RealHealthNews talks to her, and to several of her staff, including the Head of Pharmaceutical R&D – recently recruited home from Merck. We ask him to tell us his story, and with him and others investigate the plans for R&D at his new company.

(Mar 06)

From local to global: action science in Nairobi

Know the bureacracy, problems and politics of health – and know the frontline of health care. There’s a challenge for science, and it’s being met in Nairobi. Interview of Nduku Kilonzo, Research Director of Nairobi's Liverpool VCT and Care.

(March 06)

Governments worldwide should “wake up” about the threat of pandemic flu

The Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla is first in the line to make generic Tamiflu, but India’s officials gesture despair at flu threat

(21 Oct 05)

Eyitayo Lambo, Nigeria Minister of Health: Research and politics “need a marriage”

Eyitayo Lambo, Minister of Health in Nigeria and a past professor of health economics, talks to RealHealthNews.

“Health systems research should not be an end in itself but a means to an end”, argues Lambo, who has both political and practical needs for research on the Nigerian health system.

(Sept 05)

Communities the key

Jane-Frances Kengeya-Kayondo, of the Tropical Disease Research Programme, who developed and tested the home-based management of malaria, had strong reactions to the presentations by politicians at the opening ceremony of Forum 9 in Mumbai, India.

(12 Sept 05)

K Srinath Reddy: Number of heart attacks in India “unknown”

K Srinath Reddy, India’s NCD ‘guru’, talks to RealHealthNews.

It’s a myth that the poor don’t get chronic diseases, says K Srinath Reddy. “The most vulnerable are going to be people who cannot afford the costs of clinical care”. India needs “knowledge translation” and “knowledge generation” research.

By Bishakha de Sarkar (Sept 05)

Andrew Kitua, Director General, NIMR Tanzania: International health system science is a political tool – for equity

Scientific organizations must meet regularly to clarify their results and their messages, while health systems research needs strong methodology – such as international comparison.

(Sept 05)

Africa 2008 puts WHO under pressure to deliver on research

The Director of WHO research cooperation, Tikki Pang, tells RealHealthNews that the new resolution is “not just platitudes”.

The 2005 World Assembly has created a new world for health research cooperation at WHO. Targets for the next ministerial meeting in Africa in 2008 include: a global clinical trials register, substantial cooperation among WHO’s disparate research programmes, greater awareness of NGO operational studies - and an increased status for health systems researchers.

by Robert Walgate (May 05)

New cure for kalar azar 2006 – is it needed?

RealHealthNews interviews Magriet den Boer of Médecins sans Frontières, who knows the disease from its worst focus in Bihar, India.

(May 05)

Artemisinin combo tablet nears delivery

RealHealthNews talks to Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative.

(May 05)

Charitable drugs company will bridge rich and poor

RealHealthNews talks to Victoria Hale, CEO of the Institute for OneWorld Health.

(May 05)

HIV/AIDS: Over 60 new drug leads – from yeast

RealHealthNews talks to Suzanne Sandmeyer of the Institute of Genomics and Bioinformatics at the University of California, Irvine.

Mobile genetic elements in single-celled yeast, which are models for the HIV virus, have yielded new secrets of how HIV might replicate in the human body. The result: over 60 new targets for HIV/AIDS drug development. But there is a problem – the targets are human.

(May 05)

“For the first time in my life, I’m not neglected!”

Phillipe Desjeux devoted his life to leishmaniasis. Now at last he has money to work.

(May 05)

Chinese neurologist "straddles two boats"

China has begun to encourage top ex-patriot scientists to come home. Bringing US$1 million of equipment with him from the US, Chuanguo Xiao was one of the first. But he keeps a post in the West.

by Jie Gao (March 05)

Rumour re-infected four countries with polio

Religious leaders helped in India, and in Nigeria, but not before four countries were re-infected.

(Nov 04)

Research "essential" to tobacco control treaty...

…and more is needed, as smoking deaths will double to 10 million a year by 2020. Controlling the world’s second biggest killer – tobacco – is impossible without sound research, says WHO.

(March 05)