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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 290

World Health Care Reformers Unite!

Co-Editors, Education for Health

Date of Submission16-Dec-2008
Date of Web Publication19-Dec-2008

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 19967644

How to cite this article:
Glasser M, Pathman D. World Health Care Reformers Unite!. Educ Health 2008;21:290

How to cite this URL:
Glasser M, Pathman D. World Health Care Reformers Unite!. Educ Health [serial online] 2008 [cited 2022 Jan 28];21:290. Available from:

This issue of Education for Health contains a call for teachers in medical education to Unite! The call, made in our Personal View section by associate editor Jan van Dalen, draws inspiration from a recent consensus statement from all 33 United Kingdom medical schools on the Content of Communication Curricula in Undergraduate Medical Education.

At a more global level, the editorial leadership of EfH add our voices to a wider call for a united effort in world health care reform. There are many streams currently moving in this direction. We will briefly note a few.

First, 350 people from 31 countries attending this past year’s Network: Towards Unity for Health conference issued the Bogota Declaration (see The Declaration endorsed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) strategies for achieving better worldwide health, which include:

  • calling upon educational institutions for health professionals to improve the social accountability of their training, research and service programs – orienting them towards the needs of local communities, integrating and emphasizing the principles of primary health care (PHC) in their curricula and ensuring that their students have adequate experience in PHC settings;

  • supporting the interprofessional training and community orientation of educational programs to contribute to comprehensive and integrated care and to interdisciplinary action to better address social inequalities in health;

  • encouraging governments to ensure the central role of PHC as the initial contact for people’s care within their health care systems, through reorganization, reorientation of funds towards PHC and through adequate support for the education, recruitment and retention of PHC workers so that PHC becomes attractive for all health professionals.

Second, the WHO’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health Equity recently released its report Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social Determinants of Health (see Its key recommendations are for world leaders to:

  • improve daily living conditions for all people;

  • tackle the inequitable distribution of power, money and resources;

  • measure and understand the problem and assess the impact of action.

Third – and this is certainly in its emerging state – is the designation in the United States of Tom Daschle, the widely respected ex-majority leader of the Senate, as not only the new Secretary of Health and Human Services but also Director of a new White House Office of Health Reform. This prelude to change in health care in the United States is important because it points to the priority now given to innovation in health care delivery in a country long-reluctant to embrace fundamental change in its health care structures.

Within this theme of the reorganization of health care and training to meet society’s needs, we point to the initiatives presented in papers in this issue of Education for Health, specifically the creation of a medical school in Canada to meet local provincial workforce needs and an effort to draw in the voices of elderly Native Hawaiians in local health care planning.

We recognize this historical moment when ideas and forces are moving world leaders in health and health education to focus on reorienting care, care systems and care education to population needs and towards primary care. But whether current efforts will lead to deep and lasting reform remains to be seen; there are powerful forces and historical inertia working against change. There is much to rally around and much that needs our support. As Jan van Dalen expresses: UNITE!

Michael Glasser, Ph.D.

Donald Pathman, M.D., M.P.H.

Co-Editors, Education for Health


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