WHO collaborative book brings attention to global health innovation

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Three global entities have released a book focused on the challenges of supporting innovative health technologies and ensuring they reach the people who need them.

The book, Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation: Intersections between Public Health, Intellectual Property and Trade, is a cooperative effort from the World Health Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization and World Trade Organization.

"Promoting both medical innovation and access to the fruits of that innovation is indispensable for progress toward improved and more equitable health outcomes," former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, a former chairperson of WHO's Commission on Intellectual Property, Innovation and Public Health, said in an announcement. "But to achieve this result demands greater practical cooperation and dialogue within the international system."

The book is expected to be of particular interest to developing countries that face increasing calls for action. While they want to increase access to treatments, they face the necessity to contain costs.

It brings together options for policies on health, intellectual property and trade. It also covers policy issues, including health and human rights; national, regional and global regulation policies; intellectual property; trade and tariffs; procurement; free trade agreements; and other aspects of policy. The book's underlying theme is that policies on these issues have to be viewed together to make real progress. It's aimed at lawmakers, representatives of international organizations and researchers concerned with innovation and healthcare access.

A Fordham University study published last fall in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that access to electronic health and mobile health services plays a major role in the delivery of public health services around the world. The researchers came to that conclusion after studying the impact of information and communication technologies on the adolescent fertility rate, child immunization coverage, detection of tuberculosis, life expectancy, and the adult mortality rate in five nations between 2000 and 2008. They also called eHealth and mHealth "key strategic applications."

Another study, this one published in JMIR last month, found mixed results for the use of mHealth by community workers in low- and middle-income countries who deliver integrated community case management to children sick with malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- download the book

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