Broader vision

Some 700 health experts from over 100 developed and developing countries are calling on governments to pursue remedies for global health problems with a “broader vision” from the platform of the Sixth Global Conference on Health Promotion (running Aug 7-11) in Bangkok, Thailand. They have urged the governments to stress on developing public health initiatives that would involve many sectors including local communities instead of sticking only to the conventional biomedical and disease-based approach. For this it is imperative to strengthen linkages between the health sector and civil society. As they reckon, tackling today’s health hazards requires working at community, national and international level to meet the challenges like “health inequalities, weak health system and rise of chronic diseases.”

Clearly, these experts are trying to convince the countries around the world to adopt preventive approach to health, with stress on initiatives that pro-mise healthy living. However, they also point at the threats of commercialisation and privatisation that have come in the way of building sustainable health systems. This is indeed a valid concern for developing countries like Nepal where mushrooming private hospitals oversee the health regime. The private clinics, driven commercialisation, are so expensive that common people just can’t afford it. The state of the government hospitals on the other hand is pitiable because of weak infrastructure, outdated medical equipment and poor services. Whatever little they have is grossly inadequate to cater to the countless thousands of the poor people in Nepal, the majority of whom succumb to diseases that are preventable.

In the past many successful programmes have been launched in Nepal like the drive against HIV/AIDS, anti-polio drive, DOTS to eradicate tuberculosis, among others. But funds from the central government to the grassroots for preventive programmes are still starkly inadequate. While pragmatic policies are the need of the hour, it is important to find out how the UN-collaborated health programmes could be made more effective. In doing this, it would be helpful if the policy makers at home took into serious account the preventive-approach debate and health promotion programmes the health experts at Bangkok are harping on right now.