Health policy and management is an essential module as part of the Masters in Global Health course. Participants learn, within a period of 2 weeks how policies are formulated, promulgated, implemented, and monitored. During the program, candidates are exposed to policymakers, researchers, and lead program directors who assist with practical knowledge in the field. One main take-home message was that health is closely linked to politics. Here are a few reasons why:
- There is only so much money.
In an ideal world, we would have enough resources to economically support all health initiatives globally. However, due to limited resources, actions in health have to be prioritised in line with distributive justice. Inevitably, a discriminative exercise has to be performed.
- Stakeholders: A tug of war
Due to the scarcity of resources, it is common to find groups competing for limited funds. Hence, it helps to know your stakeholders, and have enough leverage or convincing power.
- Statistics should be contextual.
Figures often give a false sense of objectivity. These are prone to manipulation in the absence of relevant background information. Hence, it is important to define the context of the numbers before formulating an opinion.
The equal right of all citizens to health, education, work, food, security, culture, science, and wellbeing – that is, the same rights we proclaimed when we began our struggle, in addition to those which emerge from our dreams of justice and equality for all inhabitants of our world – is what I wish for all. ~ Fidel Castro
- People before profits
Health care is an increasingly lucrative venture for private investors. Sometimes, the commercial benefits of investments may be conflicting with health targets. Unfortunately, history has taught us several times how profit-driven interests may compromise health. Sound regulation and ethical governance are key control mechanisms.
- Capacity building in health
It is in the interest of everyone that the health system machinery is efficient, transparent, and self-improving. There is more research being done on how processes in health can be optimised. Organisations working for health interests are increasingly aware that sluggish processes may act as an impediment to health projects. Hence, they work closely with governmental units to provide technical support and aid capacity building.
Until the next blog, that’s all folks.