Thursday, August 12, 2010

Secretary Clinton going to talk about Global Health

Dear Colleagues

It is going to be interesting to hear what the Secretary of State will say next Monday at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

I am not optimistic.

Global Health has not progressed very well over the past fifty years in good part because the experts have not done a very good job of understanding the cost behavior of the health sector under very different conditions around the world.

The following is the announcement of the presentation:
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 12, 2010
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will deliver remarks on Monday, August 16 at 11:30 a.m. on the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative. The speech will take place at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in the Kenney Auditorium.

Secretary Clinton’s speech will focus on The Global Health Initiative, a centerpiece of the Obama Administration's foreign policy and an expression of U.S. values and leadership in the world. Secretary Clinton will describe the Global Health Initiative’s core principles, and call on governments, organizations, and individuals to join the United States in pursuing a sustainable approach for delivering essential health services to more people in more places.

SAIS will host a live webcast of the event accessible at

Kenney Auditorium
Johns Hopkins University
Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) – first floor
1740 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C.

The speech will be open to SAIS students, faculty/staff and invited guests only. The event will also be open to credentialed members of the media.

Felisa Neuringer Klubes
SAIS Communications Office

Department of State
Office of Press Relations
(202) 647-2492
I cannot be at this presentation ... but I would like to engage in a dialog about what is best to do around the world to improve global health.

Some of the work I have done suggests that community level health interventions are going to be very important ... a practical application of "prevention is better than cure" as well as the idea that early intervention is way better than leaving a condition to deteriorate until it is difficult to treat.

It is also clear that the professional structure that has become the norm in rich societies cannot work in resource poor settings. The management of resources requires that some of the constraints that serve medical professionals but do not serve poor patients are addressed.

The problem of profit rather than value being the main driver of the health sector needs to be addressed ... pharmaceutical research needs to produce drugs that improve health whether or not they are block buster profit generators ... and the question of IP and generics needs to be addressed not only to preserve business profits but also to produce health value.

It will be interesting to see how much attention is paid to malaria and HIV-AIDS. Huge resource allocations have been made to these health sub-sectors ... but in my view the results of these expenditures are modest compared to what would have been achieved if better management of these resources had been in place.

Health is important. The debate needs not only quantified costs, revenues and profits but also the value adding associated with optimum allocation of resources.

Peter Burgess

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