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Mexico City Health Care Summit Focuses on How to Help Poor People

  • James Blears

Government ministers, doctors, nurses, and other health care specialists from 76 countries are meeting in Mexico city to discuss major health issues facing the world today and how to combat them. The summit on health research is sponsored by the World Health Organization.

One of the summit's main themes is how to save thousands of people who lose their lives every day because of a lack of health care.

Tim Evans, the Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization, says most child mortality globally is avoidable though existing low cost often simple, preventative measures.

He said one example is providing anti mosquito bed nets for children in the fight against maleria. Mr. Evans says the question of their distribution at low cost has not yet been properly addressed.

"Mosquito bed nets are an intervention that can decrease childhood mortality by 25 percent," he explained. "We have not understood how to distribute those bed nets to the population at large. What the mechanisms would be to insure a purchasing on the behalf of the consumer that would be affordable and sustainable. And what we are arguing here is that those solutions won't simply appear serendipitously. We have to actively research those questions and in a problem solving mode, identify what the opportunities are for quickly and effectively increasing coverage of these key interventions."

Doctor Pramillar Senanayake is the Chairperson of the Global Forum's Foundation Council. She says more work must be focused on helping mothers from developing countries to survive childbirth. She said a million women's lives could and must be saved annually.

"I don't think any woman should die giving birth to the next generation. And I think it is society's duty and women's right to have this changed," she said. "And I think we need to tackle the issue of women's reproductive health for starters. And if we empower a woman and her reproductive health is taken care of, then she's on the move."

Doctor Gill Samuels is Executive Director for Science Policy and Affairs at Pfizer Global Research and Development in Europe. One of her specialities is Aids research. She says it is as big a challenge as the Black Death, or plague, which killed at least a third of Europe's population in the 1300s.

She warns this virus is now making deep inroads into other areas apart from Africa.

"Although people have thought that Africa is the biggest problem, we know now that in Eastern Europe and in the Far East the rate of rise of HIV infections is exponential, so I don't think that the problem is purely confined to Africa," she said.

Other major issues being examined at the summit include statistics with special emphasis on mortality rates, which often go unreported.