WHO is watching over you
Sometimes you are offered a chance of a lifetime and these are the opportunities to seize. This is exactly what I did recently when I applied to attend a workshop given by the International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations that took place in Geneva, Switzerland. Members from around the world were invited to participate in three days of activities. Our first day was focussed on meeting working members of the World Health Organization (WHO) and hearing their presentations on various topics such as counterfeit drugs, determinants of health in primary care, safety for patients and chronic illness. Follow this link to access the presentations. These issues affect us globally and it was interesting to learn how they were broached at the international level. Also discussed was health as a human rights issue. Canada, as a member of the WHO has signed an agreement, which in essence states that all people have a right to good health. This human rights issue is written in the Alma-Ata declaration. The question we can ask our government is: Are they upholding their agreement of this declaration? It's my belief that the commitment of the Canadian government falls short when it comes to arthritis, access to medications and preventable disability.
On the second day I had the privilege of attending the 62nd World Health Assembly at the United Nations. In the morning we listened to speeches from health ministers from around the world. Canada’s Minister of Health did not address the assembly nor did she attend. In spite of this many countries commended Canada for its swift action in dealing with the H1N1 flu virus, having learned some valuable lessons from the SARS tragedy. In the afternoon we were addressed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, who was followed by Sarah Brown, wife of the British Prime Minister. They both addressed the creation of an arm within the WHO to combat maternal death, which is preventable but still a leading killer of woman in the world.
On the third morning we were treated to a wonderful presentation given by Ilona Kickbush, Senior Associate of the Nuffield Trust. She discussed the future top 10 trends in health care. They are:
Patients and citizens as central actors in 21st century societies. The need for competent citizens in health matters.
Empowerment through technology such as: Information assistive devices blood glucose monitors, web browsers and servers, and mobile phones.
Empowerment through information and ownership, such as the Microsoft Health Vault for keeping personal medical records and health information.
Health marketing. Proliferation of books and magazines delivering messages to market theories and products. Accuracy of information and transparency of information origin are required for good education and decision-making. Informed consumers are powerful consumers.
Specific Disease Markets. For example, the proliferating business opportunities and financial investments in specific disease markets like those targeting obesity.
New organization of health delivery systems. Health clinics in retail stores, for example those in Wal-Mart, tele-health information systems reflect needs of consumer driven society for fast, convenient and reliable service.
Global Health Systems. The competition to retain health care providers and provide specialized services may create centres of excellence for certain treatments or surgeries in specific countries.
New areas of health policy. Health policy being implemented by many government Ministries and departments such as trade, industry and agriculture as well as health. The emphasis on preventative health measures will increase relative to urgent care.
Science and technology to improve human physical and mental health. There are now over 600 drugs being researched for Alzheimer’s Disease that may also enhance brain function.
Paradigm shift from risk behaviour to genetic risk. What will be expected from patients who are genetically at risk? Predictive medicine raises a multitude of ethical questions.
CAPA has earned the reputation as a driver of change and advocacy on the national and regional levels. Our membership in IAPO extends our involvement and interaction to the international arena. Sharing our issues, experiences as health consumers and solutions to mutually experienced problems within the 'global village' provides ideas and information that helps CAPA bring positive changes to the lives of Canadians with arthritis.