Skip to main content

Health research in the Eastern Mediterranean Region

Countries across the Eastern Mediterranean Region face unprecedented health challenges, and are buffeted by demographic change, a dual disease burden, rising health costs, and the effects of ongoing conflict and population movements – exacerbated in the near-term by instability arising from recent political upheaval in the Middle East. However, health agencies in the region are not well positioned to respond to these challenges because of a dearth of good quality health research.

An article published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine by Professor Salman Rawaf and colleagues presents an assessment of the current state of health research systems across the Eastern Mediterranean based on publicly available literature and data sources. The review finds that – while there have been important improvements in productivity in the Region since the early 1990s – overall research performance is poor with critical deficits in system stewardship, research training and human resource development, and basic data surveillance. Translation of research into policy and practice is hampered by weak institutional and financial incentives, and concerns over the political sensitivity of findings. These problems are attributable primarily to chronic under-investment – both financial and political – in Research and Development systems.

The review identifies key areas for a regional strategy and how to address challenges, including increased funding, research capacity-building, reform of governance arrangements and sustained political investment in research support. A central finding is that the lack of publicly available data on research systems makes meaningful cross-comparisons of performance within the Eastern Mediterranean Region difficult. Professor Rawaf and colleagues call for work to improve understanding of health research systems across the region.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Improving how secondary care and general practice in England work together: the NHS Standard Contract

Due to the increasing pressures on general practices within the National Health Service in England, the interface between primary and secondary care, and the division of labour between these, has become an important issue. This has long been an area prone to difficulties and conflict, the consequences of which can directly impact the quality and safety of patient care, particularly for patients with chronic conditions who regularly transition between these two sectors. In an article published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Amy Price and I explore the measures recently implemented in the NHS Standard Contract which aim to target common issues at the primary–secondary care interface, with an aim to reducing inappropriate general practitioner workload in England. We discuss the context behind the implementation of the NHS Standard Contract as well as current concerns and areas for further consideration.

The current crisis in primary care means the NHS Standard Contract…

Dr Demis Hassabis, Co-Founder and CEO of DeepMind, Speaks about AI in Healthcare

On 28 September 2017, I attended the Annual Institute of Global Health Innovation Lecture: Artificial General Intelligence and Healthcare, delivered by Dr Demis Hassabis, co-founder and CEO of Google DeepMind. Artificial intelligence is the science of making machines smart argued Dr Hassabis, so how can we make it improve the healthcare sector? Dr Hassabis then went on to describe the work that DeepMind was carrying out in healthcare in areas such as organising information, deep learning to support the reporting of medical images (such as scans and pathology slides), and biomedical science. Dr Hassabis also discussed the challenges of applying techniques such as reinforcement learning in healthcare. He concluded that artificial intelligence has great scope for improving healthcare; for example, by prioritising the tasks that clinicians had to carry out and by providing decision support aids for both patients and doctors. Dr Hassabis also discussed some of the ethical issues in using …

Patients are more satisfied with general practices managed by GP partners than those managed by companies

General practices in England are independent businesses that are contracted to provide primary care for specified populations. Most are owned by general practitioners, but many types of organisation are now eligible to deliver these services. In a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, we examined the association between patient experience and the contract type of general practices in England, distinguishing limited companies from other practices.

We analysed data from the English General Practice Patient Survey 2013–2014 (July to September 2013 and January to March 2014). Patients were eligible for inclusion in the survey if they had a valid National Health Service number, had been registered with a general practice for six months or more, and were aged 18 years or over. All general practices in England with eligible patients were included in the survey (n = 8017).

Patients registered to general practices owned by limited companies reported worse experience…