Publications

2015
Tan, C. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. Overview of Systematic Reviews on the Health-Related Effects of Government Tobacco Control Policies. BMC Public Health , 15 (744) , pp. 1-11. PDFAbstract

Background: Government interventions are critical to addressing the global tobacco epidemic, a major public health problem that continues to deepen. We systematically synthesize research evidence on the effectiveness of government tobacco control policies promoted by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), supporting the implementation of this international treaty on the tenth anniversary of it entering into force.

Methods: An overview of systematic reviews was prepared through systematic searches of five electronic databases, published up to March 2014. Additional reviews were retrieved from monthly updates until August 2014, consultations with tobacco control experts and a targeted search for reviews on mass media interventions. Reviews were assessed according to predefined inclusion criteria, and ratings of methodological quality were either extracted from source databases or independently scored.

Results: Of 612 reviews retrieved, 45 reviews met the inclusion criteria and 14 more were identified from monthly updates, expert consultations and a targeted search, resulting in 59 included reviews summarizing over 1150 primary studies. The 38 strong and moderate quality reviews published since 2000 were prioritized in the qualitative synthesis. Protecting people from tobacco smoke was the most strongly supported government intervention, with smoke-free policies associated with decreased smoking behaviour, secondhand smoke exposure and adverse health outcomes. Raising taxes on tobacco products also consistently demonstrated reductions in smoking behaviour. Tobacco product packaging interventions and anti-tobacco mass media campaigns may decrease smoking behaviour, with the latter likely an important part of larger multicomponent programs. Financial interventions for smoking cessation are most effective when targeted at smokers to reduce the cost of cessation products, but incentivizing quitting may be effective as well. Although the findings for bans on tobacco advertising were inconclusive, other evidence suggests they remain an important intervention.

Conclusion: When designing and implementing tobacco control programs, governments should prioritize smoking bans and price increases of tobacco products followed by other interventions. Additional studies are needed on the various factors that can influence a policy’s effectiveness and feasibility such as cost, local context, political barriers and implementation strategies.

Hoffman, S.J., et al., 2015. Strategies for Achieving Global Collective Action on Antimicrobial Resistance. Bulletin for the World Health Organization , 93 (12) , pp. 867-876. PDFAbstract

Global governance and market failures mean that it is not possible to ensure access to antimicrobial medicines of sustainable effectiveness. Many people work to overcome these failures, but their institutions and initiatives are insufficiently coordinated, led and financed. Options for promoting global collective action on antimicrobial access and effectiveness include building institutions, crafting incentives and mobilizing interests. No single option is sufficient to tackle all the challenges associated with antimicrobial resistance. Promising institutional options include monitored milestones and an interagency task force. A global pooled fund could be used to craft incentives and a special representative nominated as an interest mobilizer. There are three policy components to the problem of antimicrobials – ensuring access, conservation and innovation. To address all three components, the right mix of options needs to be matched with an effective forum and may need to be supported by an international legal framework. 

Hoffman, S.J. & Silverberg, S.L., 2015. Training the next generation of global health advocates through experiential education: A mixed-methods case study evaluation. Canadian Journal of Public Health , 106 (6) , pp. 442-449. PDFAbstract

Objectives: This case study evaluates a global health education experience aimed at training the next generation of global health advocates. Demand and interest in global health among Canadian students is well documented, despite the difficulty in integrating meaningful experiences into curricula.

Methods: Global health advocacy was taught to 19 undergraduate students at McMaster University through an experiential education course, during which they developed a national advocacy campaign on global access to medicines. A quantitative survey and an analysis of social network dynamics were conducted, along with a qualitative analysis of written work and course evaluations. Data were interpreted through a thematic synthesis approach.

Results: Themes were identified related to students’ learning outcomes, experience and class dynamics. The experiential education format helped students gain authentic, real-world experience in global health advocacy and leadership. The tangible implications for their course work was a key motivating factor. While experiential education is an effective tool for some learning outcomes, it is not suitable for all. As well, group dynamics and evaluation methods affect the learning environment.

Conclusion: Real-world global health issues, public health practice and advocacy approaches can be effectively taught through experiential education, alongside skills like communication and professionalism. Students developed a nuanced understanding of many strategies, challenges and barriers that exist in advocating for public health ideas. These experiences are potentially empowering and confidence-building despite the heavy time commitment they require. Attention should be given to how such experiences are designed, as course dynamics and grading structure significantly influence students’ experience.

Key words: Experiential learning; education; global health; health policy.

Hutton, F.G., et al., 2015. Global Challenges: An Innovative Journal for Tackling Humanity's Major Challenges. Global Challenges. PDF
Hoffman, S.J. & Røttingen, J.-A., 2015. Global Challenges: Global Health. Global Challenges. PDF
Schäferhoff, M., et al., 2015. Rethinking the Global Health System, London: Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs, UK). PDF
Frenk, J. & Hoffman, S.J. ed., 2015. Introduction. In: "To Save Humanity": What Matters Most for a Healthy Future, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Full BookAbstract

We edited this book to share powerful ideas from some of the world's most thoughtful persons because we believe our shared destiny depends on all of us, everywhere, being engaged and doing our part.

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Hoffman, S.J., 2015. We Already Know How To Save The World. Now We Need A Strategy To Make It Happen. Vox. Article
Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. When Disasters like Ebola Hit, The World Needs The World Health Organization. And It's Failing. Vox. Article
Hoffman, S.J., 2015. Why Critics Are Wrong About John Paulson's $400 Million Gift to Harvard. Vox. Article
Hoffman, S.J. & Ottersen, T., 2015. Addressing Antibiotic Resistance Requires Robust International Accountability Mechanisms. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics , 43 (2) , pp. 53-64. PDFAbstract

A proposed international agreement on antibiotic resistance will depend on robust accountability mechanisms for real-world impact. This article examines the central aspects of accountability relationships in international agreements and lays out ways to strengthen them. We provide a menu of accountability mechanisms that facilitate transparency, oversight, complaint, and enforcement, describe how these mechanisms can promote compliance, and identify key considerations for a proposed international agreement on antibiotic resistance. These insights can be useful for bringing about the revolutionary changes that new international agreements aspire to achieve.

Hoffman, S.J. & So, K., 2015. Assessing 15 Proposals for Promoting Innovation and Access to Medicines Globally. Annals of Global Health , 80 (6) , pp. 432-443. PDFAbstract

Background

There is widespread recognition that the existing global systems for innovation and access to medicines need reform. Billions of people do not have access to the medicines they need, and market failures prevent new drugs from being developed for diseases that primarily affect the global poor. The World Health Organization's Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG) analyzed numerous proposals for reform. The aim of this article is to build on these previous inquiries.

Methods

We conducted a structured analysis that grouped proposals into five broad opportunities for global policy reform to help researchers and decision makers to meaningfully evaluate each proposal in comparison with similar proposals. Proposals were also analyzed along three important dimensions—potential health impact, financial implications, and political feasibility—further facilitating the comparison and application of this information.

Findings

Upon analysis, no one solution was deemed a panacea, as many (often competing) considerations need to be taken into account. However, some proposals, particularly product development partnership and prizes, appeared more promising and feasible at this time and deserve further attention.

Conclusion

More research is needed into the effectiveness of these mechanisms and their transferability across jurisdictions.

Hoffman, S.J., Røttingen, J.-A. & Frenk, J., 2015. Assessing Proposals for New Global Health Treaties: An Analytic Framework. American Journal of Public Health , pp. e1-e8. PDFAbstract

We have presented an analytic framework and 4 criteria for assessing when global health treaties have reasonable prospects of yielding net positive effects.

First, there must be a significant transnational dimension to the problem being addressed. Second, the goals should justify the coercive nature of treaties. Third, proposed global health treaties should have a reasonable chance of achieving benefits. Fourth, treaties should be the best commitment mechanism among the many competing alternatives.

Applying this analytic framework to 9 recent calls for new global health treaties revealed that none fully meet the 4 criteria. Efforts aiming to better use or revise existing international instruments may be more productive than is advocating new treaties.





Rizvi, Z. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. Effective Global Action on Antibiotic Resistance Calls for Careful Consideration of Convening Forums. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics , 43 (2) , pp. 74-78. PDFAbstract

Global collective action is needed to address the growing transnational threat of antibiotic resistance (ABR). Some commentators have recommended an international legal agreement as the most promising mechanism for coordinating such action. While much has been said about what must be done to address ABR, far less work has analyzed how or where such collective action should be facilitated - even though the success of any international agreement depends greatly on where it is negotiated and implemented. This article evaluates four different forums that states may use to develop an international legal agreement for antibiotic resistance: (1) a self-organized venue; (2) the World Health Organization; (3) the World Trade Organization; and (4) the United Nations General Assembly. The need for a multisectoral approach and the diverse institutional landscape suggest that an effective response may best be coordinated through linked action pursued through multiple forums.

Hoffman, S.J., Røttingen, J.-A. & Frenk, J., 2015. International Law Has a Role to Play in Addressing Antibiotic Resistance. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics , 43 (2) , pp. 65-67. PDFAbstract

If an international legal agreement is needed for any of today's global health challenges, it would be antibiotic resistance (ABR). This challenge is transnational, its solution justifies coercion, tangible benefits are likely to be achieved, and other commitment mechanisms have thus far not been successful. Since addressing ABR depends on near-universal and interdependent collective action across sectors, states should utilize an international legal agreement - which formally represents the strongest commitment mechanism available to them.

Andresen, S. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. Much Can Be Learned about Addressing Antibiotic Resistance from Multilateral Environmental Agreements. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics , 43 (2) , pp. 46-52. PDFAbstract

One of the major global health security issues of our time is antibiotic resistance (ABR). To address this problem much can be learned from our attempts to deal with a different but serious global issue: the environment. Like the environment antibiotic effectiveness can be seen as a common good, since it is finite and it is very difficult to stop people from abusing them inappropriately. Environmental issues have traditionally been handled using multilateral environmental agreements (MEA) between partner nations, political regions, and in some cases the whole globe. Studying these agreements and understanding what works and what does not work can provide a guide of where to begin with the ABR crisis. A brief examination of environmental agreements reveals five institutional design features that appear to be very relevant to the global threat of ABR: (1) robust reporting and verification procedures; (2) must include both sanctions for non-compliance and assistance for implementation; (3) must be designed in such a way to allow maximally ambitious content; (4) should include implementation mechanisms for strengthening political decision-making and securing independent scientific advice; and (5) must contain provisions, obligations, and targets that are as specific, precise, and clear as possible.

Behdinan, A., Hoffman, S.J. & Pearcey, M., 2015. Some Global Policies for Antibiotic Resistance Depend on Legally Binding and Enforceable Commitments. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics , 43 (2) , pp. 68-73. PDFAbstract

To address the challenge of antibiotic resistance (ABR), the international community must ensure access, conservation and innovation of antibiotics. These goals can be significantly advanced through ten global policies that have been recommended to form part of an international legal agreement. Policies that could be central to this agreement include the establishment of standards, responsible antibiotic use regulations, and strengthening global surveillance systems. Funding for access, mobilizing resources for infrastructure, strengthening infection control practices, and regulating antibiotic marketing could also be helpful if included in a legal agreement. Incentives for innovation could also be included to mobilize support for its implementation. The inclusion of these policies in an international legal agreement could effectively support global collective action towards several ABR policy goals, some of which may depend on it for their achievement.

Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. Inside the International Effort to Fund Government Programs That Actually Work. Vox. Article
Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. The One Chart You Need to Understand Any Health Study. Vox. Article
Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. There's a Superbug Outbreak in California. But it's Really a Global Problem. Vox. Article

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