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Medical Travel & Global Healthcare International Business Summit

Organized by
The Council for the International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine (PROMED)

September 12 – 14
Washington, D.C.
MORE INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION

Visit to New York Presbyterian healthcare system on September 12 and The Global Healthcare activities on September 13 is specially open to GHC Board, members and staff. The invitation is a courtesy for the Global Health Council board and staff, and is also extended to Global Health Council members.

The Medical Travel & Global Healthcare International Business Summit is a joint initiative between PROMED and The Latino Coalition, to provide an educational and networking platform for key leaders of the global healthcare industry to learn about new trends and establish new partnerships.

Among the main topics of the Summit are

  • International Medical Education
  • Clinical Research outsourcing
  • Medical Services Outsourcing
  • Medical Services Offshoring
  • Telemedicine
  • Human Resources on Health
  • Public Policy on International Medical Travels

The Summit will bring together participants from 20 different countries, representing different sectors related to Global Health like Hospitals and Clinics; Health professionals; Universities; Hotels, tour operators; medical technology companies; Insurance carriers, TPAs, benefit consultants.

 

2
An Opportunity We Cannot Afford to Miss

This is a re-posting of Nalini Saligram’s winning blog for the Center for Strategic and International Studies blog contest on NCDs for this month. Nalini is the Founder and CEO of Arogya World and member of the Global Health Council’s NCD Roundtable. Her winning blog addresses the following question:

What should the key priority of the upcoming UN High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases be and why?

The key priority of the UN Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) is to ensure it lives up to its promise of being a genuinely transformative moment in world health.

The good news is that momentum is building. Until just a few months ago, the very word NCDs was unknown. Now thanks to the UN Summit, the foundational work of the WHO and of the NCD Alliance and the Global Health Council, NGOs, academic centers, individuals in key corporations, and civil society, an NCD community is beginning to gel. We are debating the definition of NCDs, issuing Declarations articulating the “asks” from the UN Summit, attending conferences and meetings to discuss how we can address NCDs the world over, and encouragingly, we are mostly agreeing with one another. The Summit has already energized the entire NCD community.

So what must happen for the Summit to be considered transformative? It should serve as a pivotal point to rally the whole world, touching not just the UN, policy elites, and the NCD community, but families everywhere. It must make NCDs resonate with the man on the street, so that everyone the world over is clear on the issues, what their governments and communities are doing to address them and what they themselves can do to prevent them.

The Summit should ignite action. It should lead everyone to ask themselves the question – How can I use my platform and my sphere of influence to help reduce the crippling public health impact of NCDs? It should lead to the global health community embracing NCDs fully and to donors investing in them substantially. Heads of State should attend the UN Summit, and make public commitments to address NCDs in their own countries and globally. The Summit provides a wonderful opportunity for industry to show sincere engagement in improving the lives of people in the communities where they live and work. And for NGOs to show how they can do better.

The Summit should deliver some long-term political wins. It should address how NCDs will get included in the next iteration of MDGs and also how the world will pay for NCDs. It should identify some way the world will monitor progress post-summit. And it should foster true collaboration between multiple sectors globally and in-country, because a multi-sectoral approach is the best solution for these complex diseases. The UN could issue a “how-to” guide for countries – spelling out for example how countries can move from a disease-specific to a people-centered approach as the WHO recommends, or change from vertical to diagonal health delivery, or even how health systems could be strengthened.

I don’t think we can declare the Summit “transformative” until people feel a sense of personal responsibility and make healthy lifestyle choices to prevent disease, until leaders step up and “own” the crisis, until governments roll out national NCD plans, until we figure out how to measure results, and until health and non-health, state and non-state players work together to deliver sustainable solutions. This wont all happen before September, but the work should begin now.

NCDs are our generation’s problem to fix. And fix it we must. The UN Summit is our first step.

Repackaging Capacity Building to Achieve the MDGs

How do we set a gold standard for monitoring and evaluating capacity building?

Last week I attended the inaugural HIV Capacity Building Partners Summit in Nairobi from March 16-18, 2011. The Summit provided a timely opportunity to reflect on capacity building achievements in the region thus far, and use the lessons learned to rethink, gather momentum and repackage HIV capacity building in ways that ensure achievement of universal access and the targets set in the Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6.

One of the immediate key outcomes of the meeting was a three-page communiqué that all the 225 delegates from 22 countries in East, Central and Southern Africa signed and endorsed. The communiqué outlined the challenges as well as the commitments and actions for taking forward the agenda for HIV capacity building in the region for a sustainable response. In one section, the delegates noted with concern the lack of monitoring and evaluation of capacity building interventions and the lack of sound approaches as well as standardized measurement tools that can be applied to every capacity building experience. In other words, there was a growing concern that unlike other aspects of health related impact evaluation, there isn’t a gold standard for capacity building M&E.

As such, one of the areas in which capacity builders must renew their focus is monitoring and evaluation. Over the years, capacity building across different components of the health system has received considerable attention and investment from governments and donors alike, albeit largely in the form of training courses and workshops. Despite this increased attention, experience in determining the effectiveness of capacity building interventions in the health sector remains patchy and the same is true for human resource availability and technical expertise in this field. A delegate from Uganda confessed, “We know how to conduct clinical trials to establish the efficacy of a particular therapy, but we don’t know how to do something similar for capacity building interventions. We need to do better in this critical area.”

Additionally, there are several complex challenges including the lack of a common understanding between capacity (especially organizational capacity) and performance, as well as contextual factors that are sometimes outside the control of the health sector that also impact performance. Besides, even what constitutes adequate performance is also in question. These unique and intertwined challenges that characterize capacity building have led to fewer and fewer rigorous evaluative studies of capacity building projects or programs.

For example, Margaret Waithaka, Monitoring and Evaluation specialist at the Regional AIDS Training Network shared the results of an analysis that they recently conducted. Out of the 139 HIV capacity building initiatives that they reviewed in the region, only 47 percent of them had been evaluated. As such, the state of current experience with capacity building M&E in the region calls for a new approach that begins to view capacity building as both an art and a science.

Clearly, there is an urgent need for adopting a systematic approach or framework to capacity measurement and moving towards results based management of capacity building programs where capacity building is part of the overall strategy for improving organizational performance, not just seen as the responsibility of a donor funded project. Such a framework for building sustainable organizational capacity will need to integrate program planning, monitoring, and evaluation; and focus on building understanding of the value of appropriate organizational change.

The delegates outlined the following process for building towards such a comprehensive and sound approach for capacity building M&E:

1. Develop consensus on a set of organizational standards
2. Develop a set of indicators based on the standards
3. Review standards and indicators against the body of evidence
4. Test the indicators
5. Develop standardized tools and methodologies for monitoring and evaluating efficacy of capacity building interventions.
6. Most importantly, continue to build human capacity in the evaluation of capacity building.

Results of capacity building are as important as processes. It is also essential to explore changes in capacity and changes in organizational performance using clear and standardized benchmarks that are customized to meet the unique requirements of each organizational setting. Additionally, the context within which capacity building takes place does impact the process and results of capacity building.

For all these reasons, it is important to repackage our approach to the M&E system for HIV capacity building so that regular information on a number of indicators is collected and analyzed by a cadre of well trained capacity building evaluators. Such an approach will contribute to the knowledge base on the relationship between capacity, change and performance – currently a major area of weakness for HIV/AIDS capacity building.

Ummuro Adano is a Senior Technical Advisor, Capacity Building, for the AIDSTAR-Two Project at Management Sciences for Health.

One Global Health Advocate’s View of the Canadian Summits

TORONTO, Canada — It’s been a raucous three days here at the overlapping G8 and G20 Canadian summits. Those of us who work in global health were all hoping and expecting a major announcement on maternal and child health and we got it, but it happened in ways that may influence how global health fares in the future, particularly at summits like this. The issues are logistics, media access, NGO reaction and media interest in maternal and child health

First, there have never been two summits at the same time in the same country. The G8 ran Friday and Saturday in a remote area two hours north of here by road called Muskoka, in the town of Huntsville. Because of the limited facilities there, very few journalists (and no NGO representative that I know of) had access and those few that did had to be up at 3:00 am to go through security and catch the bus in Toronto for the long trip north to Huntsville. And the G20 was Saturday and Sunday in Toronto, but the leaders were still separated from the media and NGOs, albeit by one mile instead of 200. Where one summit ended and another began was confusing, and there were conflicting reports on when each of the communiques would be issued. However, I suspect this situation is an anomoly, and not likely to be repeated.

Second, the issue of media access to NGOs has been a big issue for the NGOs throughout the summits. At recent summits, including both of those last year in Italy and Pittsburgh, NGOs for the most part had full access to the international media. This worked to the advantage of both parties and ensured that journalists had just as much access to civil society as they did to governmental delegations who, understandably, want to spin things in their favor (as does civil society).

For some reason which no one understands, the Canadian government thought this was a bad idea and decided to put the NGOs in an “Alternative Media Center” that segregates the two groups into separate buildings across the street from each other. The difference is that the one for the media is surrounded by a high fence and concrete barriers and NGOs are not allowed in without an invitation from someone with media credentials for that building. Most of us in civil society have not been invited across the street, and few reporters leave the comfort of their media center to come to us.

The Global Health Council was one of 12 non-governmental organizations that put out a statement critical of the Canadian government for this “media apartheid” which produced an article in Saturday’s Toronto Star.

But another aspect of media and civil society access was less commented upon. At the 2009 G8 in L’Aquila, Italy, we all — journalists and NGOs — had access to the heads of state and the country delegations. That is, we were all in the same facility, inside the same perimeter. Because of that, for example, I was able to attend a press conference with President Obama, Prime Minister Harper and other G8 leaders without going through security again. That was not the case in Pittsburgh. And here in Toronto, even most of the mainstream media does not have access to the heads of state, who are in the Toronto Convention Center a mile away from the two media centers. In a press briefing this morning by South Korea, the host of the next G20 in November, we were told that Seoul will revert to the L’Aquila model, where we are all together in the same location.

Third, it was interesting to see the different reactions in the NGO community to the announcement of the $7.3 billion, five-year Muskoka Initiative on maternal, newborn, child and reproductive health championed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Even though this is a huge win for global health advocates, given the relative attention that global health attracted at the 2009 summits, the NGO reaction was somewhat, though not uniformly, negative. Generally, the pure advocacy organizations (like the ONE Campaign) and the large implementing organizations that work in many areas of development (like Save the Children and Oxfam) were negative. But the organizations which focus on health, like Global Health Council and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, both organizations representing hundreds of other organizations, were much more upbeat about the Muskoka Initiative. As was the African Medical and Relief Foundation (AMREF), the only indigenous African health organization present in Toronto.

The Washington Post, one of the few U.S. mainstream media outlets to give this story any legs, published a story entitled “Aid group slams lack of financial support for maternal and child health initiative.” based on quotes only from Save the Children and Oxfam, two of the NGOs that did get into the media center. Other organizations, with more positive perspectives, were not interviewed because they were not in the media center to be interviewed. I made this point in my letter published in the Post July 1 (second letter down).

In this case, it appears that the Canadian government strategy backfired as they might have gotten a better story out on their flagship G8 initiative if they had allowed full access between media and NGOs.

Finally, the Muskoka Initiative on maternal and child health got very good media coverage in Canada (it was front page news on the front of The Globe and Mail, Canada’s premier newspaper, on Saturday, and it was surprisingly prominent in the Canadian TV coverage that I saw). People on the street knew about it; my taxi driver on Saturday night, originally from Bangladesh, told me it was the best story coming out of the G8 and would improve a lot of lives. But it got little to no coverage from mainstream U.S. media.

I understand why this initiative was a big story in Canada since it is a Canadian initiative and the summits are taking place in Canada. But I wish that the U.S. media had paid more attention to one of the best stories coming out of the summits, and the one that could potentially improve and save so many lives. And I wish the NGO community had been more welcoming of what is a highly positive development and a step — if not a leap — in the right direction. We just need to keep building on this significant success.

Stephen Harper said something in his press conference on Friday night about the Muskoka Initiative that we put it in our G8 press release: “Of all things we could spend our money on, who wouldn’t want to spend to save the life of a mother who would otherwise die?”

As Canadian Summits Open, NGOs Have Mixed Feelings

TORONTO, Canada — As world leaders arrive in Canada for the twin G8 and G20 summits, NGOs who advocate for global health have decidedly mixed feelings about the annual gatherings of world leaders.

On the one hand, we are excited that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is pushing for a $1 billion Canadian initiative on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH), a surprising development when it was announced in January since Harper is not known as a champion of international development, and since MNCH was almost completely ignored at the 2009 G8 in Italy and G20 in Pittsburgh. We are grateful to our colleagues in Canadian civil society for their efforts in making that happen.

At the same, NGOs are profoundly disappointed with the tone the same Canadian government has set by barring NGOs and civil society from the international media center for the first time in recent history. In both L’Aquila, Italy and Pittsburgh last year, NGOs and media shared the same media center in a way that was mutually beneficial for both parties.

We don’t understand why the Canadian government felt it necessary to segregate the NGOS in separate facilities. The International Media Center — the “real” media center — is across the street from the “Alternative” Media Center (where the NGOs are congregated and from where I write this) but the “real” center is surrounded by a wire fence and concrete barriers, apparently to impede aggressive NGO representatives, who have to be invited in by journalists.

The Harper government seems to be going in a different direction from the United Nations, which last week opened its process leading to September’s summit on the Millennium Development Goals to civil society and the private sector for the first time, with informal and interactive hearings to get various perspectives on how to accelerate progress towards achieving the MDGs.

Interaction, the coalition of U.S. NGOs with which Global Health Council shares reciprocal membership), felt so strongly about this adverse development that they decided not to send anyone to Toronto, even though it normally coordinates the U.S. civil society presence at these summits. Yesterday, Interaction issued a statement critical of this lack of access, which makes it more difficult to achieve a “transparent monitoring system” that is needed to evaluate if donor countries actually honor their commitments.

U.S. President Barack Obama just arrived at Toronto airport, the last G8 leader to arrive, and is helicoptering to Muskoka, the remote resort area north of here, for the beginning of the G8 Summit. The G20 Summit starts here in Toronto tomorrow.