Those of us who ten years ago were involved in the battle to help poorer countries gain access to essential medicines could hardly imagine that today we would be advancing similar arguments, but this time referring to patients in our own countries. However the obstacles that prevent a growing number of poor Europeans and North Americans from gaining access to quality medical treatment reveal the extent to which the disarray of global health has given rise to a similar challenge: today the spectre of inequity haunts developing, emerging, and developed countries alike.
We are not trying to make an invidious comparison. Clearly, an immense gap still separates the health care situation in Europe from that of Latin America, for example. But the societies in both regions are facing a similar problem in that both governments and international organisations are failing to guarantee an effective social protection floor for all their citizens based on a fair distribution of resources and opportunities. In terms of everything from primary care to research on diseases like malaria, ever larger numbers of patients are being excluded by a system that violates the social contract in favour of a mere commercial contract that privileges the interests of the strongest parties.
The problems of inequity—and the ways they might be addressed in the coming years—is the focus of an international seminar to be held this week in Barcelona
organised by ISGlobal in collaboration with the Open Society Foundations. Some forty leading world specialists in equity, financing, governance and scientific research will come together in Barcelona to discuss one of the most complex challenges of our time.
The main theme of the seminar will be global health, but from the start our aim was not to organise another meeting of the usual suspects but to plan an event that would promote a deeper understanding of the broader context of this debate. Over the two-day seminar, members of the Spanish Government and representatives of the pharmaceutical industry will exchange views with development experts like Celine Charveriat, Oxfam's International Director of Campaigns and Advocacy. David Hammerstein, a European consumer rights activist, will have the opportunity to hear the point of view of Regina Rabinovich, who advises ISGlobal on R&D and innovation in the field of neglected diseases. The meeting will open and close with keynote speeches by two leading figures: one in the field of public health (Martin McKee, professor at the prestigious London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine), and the other in the fight against poverty (Kevin Watkins, director of the Overseas Development Institute, the leading UK development think tank). Both keynote sessions will be broadcast live from our website via the following link: www.isglobal.org/webinar
We encourage you to join this debate, which is the opening salvo marking the start of one of the main projects of the ISGlobal think tank.
Full details of the conference and the material produced in preparation for the meeting are available here
We are confident that it will interest you as much as it does us.