[This entry has been written by Gonzalo Fanjul and Rafael Vilasanjuan]
As the 2015 target dates for the Millennium Development Goals draw nearer, two things have become clear: first, that we will not reach the goals set; and second, that there has never before been such a favourable collective awareness of development and health. What should we do next? Continue along the path that has already been mapped out or change the parameters?
While half the world is debating how to ensure the continuity of the still uncompleted millennium challenge, we propose reconnecting with the essence of what those promises were pursuing. Have we managed to improve the quality of life of the world’s most vulnerable populations? Have we succeeded in increasing the life expectancy of the millions of children who are never going to see their fifth birthday? It is true that unprecedented progress has been made in the treatment of certain complex diseases, such as AIDS and malaria, which continue to kill millions of people in places where health care systems are still very precarious. But the equity gap between populations is far from closed.
Paradoxically, the recession of the stronger economies is threatening innovation and the search for effective and accessible tools and mechanisms for health. The repercussions of the crisis are no longer affecting only poorer countries. While we were working to reduce health gaps between different geographical regions, inequality within countries has greatly increased due to the crisis, starting with the most developed economies. Regions such as Europe may cease to be the standard of reference for health that they have been in the past.
Perhaps we are seeing the end of an era, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Today we know so much more. More knowledge is available and, above all, we are seeing an increase in the number of social agents capable of providing answers to the most critical dilemmas. How can we obtain new resources? How can we define a new decision-making model? What processes will ensure that innovation achieves a balance between market logic and patients’ rights?
The challenge facing the ISGlobal Seminar that will take place in Barcelona on 7 and 8 November is to bring together international figures from many different spheres—social and political activists, representatives of industry, philanthropy and the leading humanitarian organisations, and experts in development, law, economics and health—to discuss the need for a change of direction and a new social commitment in the field of global health. New ideas for a new era.