Post-G8 Work Focuses on Strengthening Health Systems

Three policy papers address improving health work force, health finance, and health information
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- In an atmosphere that emphasizes the strengthening of health systems rather than disease-specific approaches, some efforts growing out of the 2008 G8 summit in Toyako, Japan, have focused on health work force, health finance and health information, according to a policy review published online Jan. 15 in The Lancet.

Michael R. Reich, Ph.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and Keizo Takemi, of Tokai University in Tokyo, Japan, write that leaders at the G8 summit focusing on global health pledged $60 billion over five years. Three policy papers developed after the summit focus on strengthening health systems. They stress using existing resources more effectively and enhancing country capacity and ownership.

In providing an overview of the papers, the authors write that efforts to address work force issues should include providing medical education in poor areas and focusing on international health-worker migration; efforts to strengthen health financing should include helping developing countries improve their financing policies; and efforts to improve health information should include the creation of a Cochrane-style process to create evidence for health policy.

"Guaranteeing health security becomes even more urgent in times of economic upheaval. Let us not forget that economic shocks are often short term, but health shocks invariably leave enduring scars. Economies may eventually recover, but there is no recovery of unnecessary deaths or life-long disabilities caused by inadequate policies," writes Julio Frenk, of the Harvard School of Public Health, in an accompanying commentary.

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