Curing the rich (and leaving the rest): Norwegian health research in a global perspective
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Health research today is predominantly focused on diseases that disproportionately affect the rich. Less than ten percent of money spent is used on conditions that primarily afflict the poorest ninety percent of the world's population.
Despite a long tradition of focusing on global health issues, Norway is no different. Only five percent of Norwegian public expenditure on health research is allocated to diseases that account for ninety percent of the global burden of disease. The situation has deteriorated over the last eight years, despite the presence of a left-wing government in power. The right to the highest attainable standard of health is a human right recognized by international human rights law. The right to life and health is increasingly respected worldwide. Still, research on diseases affecting the world's poorest remains marginal, even in a country with a left-wing government and with a stated aim of reducing inequality globally.
How does globalization and conservative health policies impact and affect health equity and health systems? What kind of approaches exists for sustainable capacity for health in Africa - and what is the role for donors? Can the marginalization of research aimed at the poorest be seen as wrong, unjust or illegal? If so, what are the ethical underpinnings of this argument?
David Sanders, Emeritus Professor and founding Director of the School of Public Health at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, is a paediatrician qualified in Public Health. He has over 30 years' experience of university teaching and health policy development in Zimbabwe and South Africa, having advised governments, NGOs and several UN agencies on primary health care, child health and nutrition, and health human resources. He has published three books and over 100 scientific articles. In 2004/5 he was Heath Clark lecturer at the LSHTM and is Visiting Professor at the Centre for International Health at the University of Bergen. He was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Cape Town in recognition of his contribution to the development of the global policy of Primary Health Care. He was on the Steering Committee of the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition for several years and the Knowledge Network on Globalisation of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health. He is a founder and on the Global Steering Council of the Peoples Health Movement and has been a contributor and editor of Global Health Watch.
Jan Reinert Karlsen is currently working as an associate professor at The Centre for the Studies of the Sciences and the Humanities, University of Bergen. Karlsen has an academic background in the philosophy of the life sciences, medical ethics and "theory of science" (‘vitenskapsteori'). His research centers on normative complexity in the science-society interface, with a special focus on postgenomic research biobanking. He has extensive experience in interdisciplinary research and teaching, including pedagogical development work. In 2011 he, and professor Roger Strand, were awarded UoB's Prize for best learning environment (‘Læringsmiljøprisen') for their work on the educational provision, "Crucial issues in science and society" ('dannelsesemner').