IHP news #465 (April 13, 2018)

Practising factfulness in global health

By on April 13, 2018



Dear Colleagues,


Arguably suffering from an “overdramatic worldview” – in the words of Hans Rosling in his latest book  Factfulness, “that pervasive, generally pessimistic global perspective that often cancels out significant progress made in the face of vast challenges”, I’ll just stick to the facts in this week’s intro, practising factfulness’ (i.e. ‘training yourself to put the news into perspective’)  for once. After all, last weekend at a family get-together, my nephew mocked me for my abundant doomsday predictions on capitalism, global warming, the euro, …    My defense – that I still wouldn’t put my money on the euro to survive for another ten years in the current constellation, sounded, ahum, weak. Anyway, what can I say: he’s going to be a MD, in some years, if all goes well. And as many of you know, these doctors don’t have a clue. You just want them to fix your body (and mind), if needed, and not overcharge you for it : )

In this week’s issue we’ll pay quite some attention to the WHO Global Dialogue on financing for prevention and control of NCDs in Copenhagen, Denmark. With sponsors like the WEF, terms like ‘innovative partnerships’ and ‘multistakeholder’ were naturally “all around” – yes, you’re all allowed to hum that cheesy ‘Wet Wet Wet’  song again. Rifat Atun even reckoned, “The distinction between the private and public sector is passé — we must work together”. A global health version of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”, in Copenhagen, quoi. Hope the moves between these cozy “partners” aren’t  accordingly. According to one of the twitterandi, the word ‘bold’ also kept coming back in Copenhagen, so it sounds like the NCD community is also full of Star Trek fans, aiming ‘to boldly go where no man has gone before’. (PS: Star Trek was popular before the #MeToo movement).  I certainly agree mankind is currently boldly going where no man has gone before. #fact

Malaria will also get a fairly prominent place in this week’s issue, ahead of a Malaria Summit next week; road safety (via a new UN trust fund & resolution); and the same is true for the Millennium Villages Project (cfr an endline evaluation in the May issue of the Lancet Global Health).  Interpretations by Sachs & Bendavid differed wildly, almost ‘millennia’ apart from each other. Meanwhile, Alma Ata 2.0 preparations are in full swing; make sure you comment on the  draft declaration on Primary Health Care, for Astana (25-26 October). As some of you might know, Astana is also a cycling team, and, at least in the past, a rather dodgy one, in #fact.  A bit like PHC in many under-resourced LIC settings, yes. But, practising factfulness, ‘The Time is Now’ to change that!  Hope the final version of the declaration pays a bit more attention to the planetary health paradigm (and what that involves in terms of the transformative economy needed). That is, if Astana still exists in October. Currently not counting on the Donald for that.  #fact

Last but not least, the ones in global health applauding Hans Rosling’s ‘Factfulness’ the most seem also the very ones warning us most enthusiastically for a ‘post-antibiotic apocalypse’, looming pandemics and other global health security “goodies”. #fact


Enjoy your reading.

Kristof Decoster



(you find the pdf of the full newsletter here: IHPn465 )

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