Recent Publications

Hoffman, S.J., et al., 2016. Surveying the knowledge and practices of health professionals in China, India, Iran, and Mexico on treating tuberculosis. American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene , 94 (5) , pp. 959-970. ArticleAbstract

Research evidence continues to reveal findings important for health professionals' clinical practices, yet it is not consistently disseminated to those who can use it. The resulting deficits in knowledge and service provision may be especially pronounced in low- and middle-income countries that have greater resource constraints. Tuberculosis treatment is an important area for assessing professionals' knowledge and practices because of the effectiveness of existing treatments and recognized gaps in professionals' knowledge about treatment. This study surveyed 384 health professionals in China, India, Iran, and Mexico on their knowledge and practices related to tuberculosis treatment. Few respondents correctly answered all five knowledge questions (12%) or self-reported performing all five recommended clinical practices “often or very often” (3%). Factors associated with higher knowledge scores included clinical specialization and working with researchers. Factors associated with better practices included training in the care of tuberculosis patients, being based in a hospital, trusting reviews of randomized controlled double-blind trials, and reading summaries of articles, reports, and reviews. This study highlights several strategies that may prove effective in improving health professionals' knowledge and practices related to tuberculosis treatment. Facilitating interactions with researchers and training in acquiring systematic reviews may be especially helpful.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the decisions, policies, or views of the World Health Organization.

Fafard, P. & Forest, P.-G., 2016. The loss of that which never was: Evaluating changes to the senior management of the Public Health Agency of Canada. Canadian Public Administration , 59 (3) , pp. 448-466. ArticleAbstract

In the fall of 2014, the Government of Canada formally split the role of the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) into two positions: the CPHO and the President of the Public Health Agency of Canada. Despite concerns raised by the public health community, these changes are consistent with the CPHO's authority. However, the nature of responsible government means that the CPHO cannot simultaneously serve as an independent advocate for policies and programs that might prevent disease and as a senior advisor to the government of the day.

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À l'automne 2014, le gouvernement du Canada a annoncé le dédoublement officiel du rôle de l'Administrateur en chef de la santé publique (ACSP) en deux postes : l'ACSP et le président de l'Agence de la santé publique du Canada. Malgré les inquiétudes exprimées dans les milieux de la santé publique, ces changements sont compatibles avec le mandat original de l'ACSP. La nature d'un gouvernement responsable suppose que l'ACSP ne peut à la fois s'instituer en champion indépendant de politiques ou de programmes favorables à la santé et conserver son rôle de conseiller principal du gouvernement du jour.

Katwyk, S.R.V., et al., 2016. Developing an approach to assessing the political feasibility of global collective action and an international agreement on antimicrobial resistance. Global Health Research and Policy , 1 (20) , pp. 1-10. PDFAbstract

 

Background: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global issue. International trade, travel, agricultural practices, and environmental contamination all make it possible for resistant microbes to cross national borders. Global collective action is needed in the form of an international agreement or other mechanism that brings states together at the negotiation table and commits them to adopt or implement policies to limit the spread of resistant microorganisms. This article describes an approach to assessing whether political and stakeholder interests can align to commit to tackling AMR.

Methods: Two dimensions affecting political feasibility were selected and compared across 82 countries: 1) states’ global influence and 2) self-interest in addressing AMR. World Bank GDP ranking was used as a proxy for global influence, while human antibiotic consumption (10-year percent change) was used as a proxy for self-interest in addressing AMR. We used these data to outline a typology of four country archetypes, and discuss how these archetypes can be used to understand whether a proposed agreement may have sufficient support to be politically feasible.

Results: Four types of countries exist within our proposed typology: 1) wealthy countries who have the expertise and financial resources to push for global collective action on AMR, 2) wealthy countries who need to act on AMR, 3) countries who require external assistance to act on AMR, and 4) neutral countries who may support action where applicable. Any international agreement will require substantial support from countries of the first type to lead global action, and from countries of the second type who have large increasing antimicrobial consumption levels. A large number of barriers exist that could derail efforts towards global collective action on AMR; issues of capacity, infrastructure, regulation, and stakeholder interests will need to be addressed in coordination with other actors to achieve an agreement on AMR.

Conclusions: Achieving a global agreement on access, conservation, and innovation – the three pillars of AMR – will not be easy. However, smaller core groups of interested Initiator and Pivotal Countries could develop policy and resolve many issues. If highly influential countries take the lead, agreements could then be scaled up to achieve global action.

Keywords: AMR, Antibiotic Resistance, Global Health, Political Feasibility, International Affairs

 

Hoffman, S.J., et al., 2016. International law’s effects on health and its social determinants: protocol for a systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression analysis. Systematic Reviews , 5 (64) , pp. 1-9. PDFAbstract
Background: In recent years, there have been numerous calls for global institutions to develop and enforce new international laws. International laws are, however, often blunt instruments with many uncertain benefits, costs, risks of harm, and trade-offs. Thus, they are probably not always appropriate solutions to global health challenges. Given these uncertainties and international law’s potential importance for improving global health, the paucity of synthesized evidence addressing whether international laws achieve their intended effects or whether they are superior in comparison to other approaches is problematic.

Methods: Ten electronic bibliographic databases were searched using predefined search strategies, including MEDLINE, Global Health, CINAHL, Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts, Dissertations and Theses, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, International Political Science Abstracts, Social Sciences Abstracts, Social Sciences Citation Index, PAIS International, and Worldwide Political Science Abstracts. Two reviewers will independently screen titles and abstracts using predefined inclusion criteria. Pairs of reviewers will then independently screen the full-text of articles for inclusion using predefined inclusion criteria and then independently extract data and assess risk of bias for included studies. Where feasible, results will be pooled through subgroup analyses, meta-analyses, and meta-regression techniques.

Discussion: The findings of this review will contribute to a better understanding of the expected benefits and possible harms of using international law to address different kinds of problems, thereby providing important evidence-informed guidance on when and how it can be effectively introduced and implemented by countries and global institutions.

Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42015019830

Keywords: International cooperation Global health Social determinants of health Public policy Jurisprudence Treaties

Tam, V., Edge, J.S. & Hoffman, S.J., 2016. Empirically evaluating the WHO global code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel’s impact on four high-income countries four years after adoption. Globalization and Health , 12 (62) , pp. 1-12. PDFAbstract

 

Background

Shortages of health workers in low-income countries are exacerbated by the international migration of health workers to more affluent countries. This problem is compounded by the active recruitment of health workers by destination countries, particularly Australia, Canada, UK and USA. The World Health Organization (WHO) adopted a voluntary Code of Practice in May 2010 to mitigate tensions between health workers’ right to migrate and the shortage of health workers in source countries. The first empirical impact evaluation of this Code was conducted 11-months after its adoption and demonstrated a lack of impact on health workforce recruitment policy and practice in the short-term. This second empirical impact evaluation was conducted 4-years post-adoption using the same methodology to determine whether there have been any changes in the perceived utility, applicability, and implementation of the Code in the medium-term.

Methods

Forty-four respondents representing government, civil society and the private sector from Australia, Canada, UK and USA completed an email-based survey evaluating their awareness of the Code, perceived impact, changes to policy or recruitment practices resulting from the Code, and the effectiveness of non-binding Codes generally. The same survey instrument from the original study was used to facilitate direct comparability of responses. Key lessons were identified through thematic analysis.

Results

The main findings between the initial impact evaluation and the current one are unchanged. Both sets of key informants reported no significant policy or regulatory changes to health worker recruitment in their countries as a direct result of the Code due to its lack of incentives, institutional mechanisms and interest mobilizers. Participants emphasized the existence of previous bilateral and regional Codes, the WHO Code’s non-binding nature, and the primacy of competing domestic healthcare priorities in explaining this perceived lack of impact.

Conclusions

The Code has probably still not produced the tangible improvements in health worker flows it aspired to achieve. Several actions, including a focus on developing bilateral codes, linking the Code to topical global priorities, and reframing the Code’s purpose to emphasize health system sustainability, are proposed to improve the Code’s uptake and impact.

Keywords

Health worker recruitment Migration Health systems sustainability Impact evaluation World Health Organization

 

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