IHP news #437

  • Highlights of the week


“We are a world in pieces”

By on September 22, 2017   Dear Colleagues,

For a brief moment, we thought Trump 2.0 had finally arrived, but after his UNGA speech from this week in New York, we realize we might have to dig up some of the irrational numbers of our younger days to label different Trump-versions. In a deeply philosophical speech, Donald was clearly inspired by Guterres’ assessment, ‘We are a world in pieces’.  Well.

In this intro, we’d like to focus instead on last week’s  GBD2016 SDG (health) study, and more in particular on Figure 1 which features for all countries in the world info on (37) health related SDG indicators, as well as an SDG health index. A well-crafted index, no doubt, but perhaps a little complicated – my multivariate/imputing/index constructing days are a while ago now. I can only imagine what it’ll take to also fully incorporate the ‘planetary health paradigm’ in the construction of the index – a milky way of health related indicators, no doubt. Anyway,  in an era of fake news, never-ending ideological framing but also relentless benchmarking, we see quite some potential in this table, even if the methodological hocus pocus behind the index is beyond you.  This table is pure gold if you want to boost interest for global health at the annual UNGA meeting in New York, and among global citizens. Instead of the rather predictable Gates Goalkeepers or Bloomberg Global Business Forum events, this table (and especially the SDG health index ranking) could inspire an annual global health show with all bells and whistles for the entire world (pretty much like Eurosong for Europeans).

Here’s how one should go about it. You let Bloomberg & Ivanka (a “power couple” of sorts ) host the show, and you give Chris Murray a key role throughout the evening. Chris would have a grin on his face every time he opens an envelope, together with a High-Level guest.

In the 2017 show, Murray would first open “the SDG health envelope” for India, and ask Mr Modi, “where do you think India ends up this year”?  Modi would look slightly puzzled (yoga/yogi style), and then Murray would helpfully add, “Just ahead of North Korea!” Moments later, a beaming Kim Jong-Un would come on stage (for a long applause round), against a backdrop of virtual rockets (and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”).  At that very moment, Amartya Sen would also get inspiration for a future seminal paper.

Up next, Luxembourg. The audience would be no less than baffled when hearing about Luxembourg’s rather disastrous ranking (only 37th), but then a ‘tongue in cheek’ Juncker would come on stage to dwell a bit more in detail on the particular issue with alcohol use in his country. Juncker, being Juncker, would also humbly admit Saudi Arabia had been doing much better in this respect.

Leo Messi would then be invited on stage, and be happy to hear that Argentina beat Chile ànd Brazil this year, even if he still didn’t pay much taxes. Thai military leaders would be less happy, as they’d learn that ‘the triangle still had to move many mountains’ (83th), from Murray, by now in a teasing mood.

The “moment suprême” then. Paul Kagame would get the cheerful news that his country ranked behind the DRC ànd Haiti. Gasps in the audience, Murray wouldn’t be able to control himself anymore. A little later, our own Minister, Alexander De Croo, also watching the show, having just pointed out the key governance difference between Congo and Ethiopia would find out, together with dr Tedros (now also on stage), that Ethiopia’s position was 178th. , also way behind Congo (152nd). Murray again:  “Zimbabwe was also well ahead! (142th)”  Tedros, with a whiff of Obama glamour, wouldn’t be impressed, though. After congratulating these other African countries and their leaders Kabila & Mugabe with their countries’ performance, he’d chuckle, “Didn’t you use to work for WHO, Chris?”.  “Last time you did this sort of thing, we kicked you out!” (+global health diplomacy smile)

Then it’d be time for Lady Gaga and ‘Poker Face’.

Enjoy your reading.

The editorial team



(you find the pdf-version of the newsletter here: IHP 437 pdf  )

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