Saturday, March 20, 2010

Science Editorial on Science-Based Health Care

The latest issue of Science has this interesting editorial from Chen Zhu, the Minister of Health of the People's Republic of China. A sample:

The provision of adequate health care is one of the major challenges for modern societies. It is an especially tough task in developing countries with limited resources and insufficient capacity. Obstacles are even encountered at the conceptual level: For example, a traditional misconception is that spending on health is a social burden, instead of being a strategic investment essential for each nation's socioeconomic development. According to economic analyses, health system innovations will not only improve livelihoods but also boost internal consumption and job opportunities. But these innovations cannot succeed without the strong support of science.

Both the biomedical and social sciences will be critical for developing sound policies that reshape health care systems. In China, with its fast-aging populace and a disease burden increase associated with urbanization and industrialization, science must drive an evidence-based analysis of the cost-effectiveness of drugs and medical technologies to enable effective and affordable prevention, diagnoses, and treatments. Science also facilitates the evaluation of the performance of health care institutions to ensure quality services. And science can drive a national innovation strategy. Thus, the education of medical professionals, training of regulatory teams, and fostering of biotechnology talents can be leveraged through Internet-based platforms that reach remote areas.

....To fulfill these missions, visionary policies are needed to support capacity-building in science and encourage translational research in multidisciplinary clinical studies, health system innovation, and health industry growth.