Start learning about global health delivery

by Anjali Sastry on October 21, 2008

I’ve put together a page of readings and videos as an introduction to global health delivery. We’re about to kick off our new class, G-Lab GHD, and the material should help students with different backgrounds and experience to start learning more about the challenges in delivering health care–and, I hope, to start getting excited about the needs and opportunities too. So, start here!

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Samy Esayag November 10, 2008 at 6:52 pm

Last Wednesday, October 29, I was not able to attend class since I had a job interview. However, I followed up with my classmates regarding the content that was discussed during my absence. Through them and through class notes posted on this webpage, I learned that the class was basically divided into two parts. First, you started with a big-picture overview of healthcare systems, analyzing what could be possible indicators to measure the quality and cost-effectiveness of particular diseases in a given country. Second, two guest speakers talked about particularly challenging healthcare issues they have experienced throughout their careers. In the following paragraphs I will comment on my basic takeaways of Wednesday’s class, hoping to have captured the essence of both discussions.

First, regarding the healthcare indicator, I understand the class agreed that a good way to measure quality of a healthcare system is by using the DALY (Disability-Adjusted Life Years). I agree with the fact that we can not use mortality rates for the given disease, because this data might be misleading: for instance, death of a patient could have been reported as the consequence of common diseases (like heart attacks) even though the patient truly died because of another infectious disease (like AIDS). To solve this inconsistency problem it makes sense to rather take the universe of people that suffer a particular disease and estimate their life expectancy. This way, data does not rely on perceptions of the people that reported causes of death.

In the second part of the lecture you analyzed two cases. First, you talked about a case of a pregnant woman that visited the hospital for the first time in her 7th month of pregnancy. Many reasons could have caused this: distance from her home to the hospital (and associated transportation costs), community acceptance of giving birth at home, etc. Second, you discussed a case of a sick person who had a stomach problem. He went to a ‘heath stop’ but there they thought this was a regular case of diarrhea rather than a more complicated disease. Lack of communication between this stop and main hospitals avoided the patient from receiving proper treatment.

My main takeaway from both cases is that, whenever we are analyzing healthcare system in one of these developing countries, we need to do so by putting it in the social and geographical context they are immersed in. Only through understanding local realities of this nature we will be able to design adequate systems that deal with nationwide healthcare issues.

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