Effective Healthcare Requires Universal Access, Delivery In Addition To Research

In a SciDev.net opinion piece, Roger Williamson, an independent consultant and visiting fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, examines what “the poorest billion need to improve ‘poor health.'” He highlights an article published by SciDev.net last week, which “reported that the WHO will decide on research projects to fund in the area of neglected tropical diseases that have funding gaps due to market failures,” and writes, “This is good news. But we should remember that, although delivering healthcare for the poorest cannot work without science at its core, this alone is not enough — to be effective, healthcare also needs universal access and delivery.”

“Recent decades have seen huge innovation in funding and delivery for effective health systems, for example, the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” Williamson continues. “Yet research and innovation on their own have not solved global health problems,” he notes, adding, “Tackling poor health requires both science — health research, for example — and financing, in this case a proper market for research outputs. The drugs may exist but someone has to pay for them.” He adds, “For healthcare to be effective and economical, this market also has to be large scale.” Williamson concludes, “So let us remember that we need both effective health systems and grassroots demand to ensure that health innovations make a difference” (12/20).