Global health care at the crossroads

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Flinders University Professor Michael Kidd meets Nigeria’s Minister of Health Dr E. Osagie Ehanire during a recent official WONCA visit to Africa.

The pivotal role of family doctors in providing health care to populations around the world has preoccupied the past few years of Professor Michael Kidd’s life.

As the Executive Dean of the Flinders Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences nears the end of an expansive three-year term as president of the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA), he will present a free public lecture on Wednesday 19 October at Flinders University Victoria Square this week.

The weighty subject – ‘How do we ensure everybody in the world gets access to health care?’ – centres on the belief that universal health care is not attainable unless a nation has a strong system of community-based primary health-care delivery.

Professor Kidd insists general practitioners are “true heroes” of health care globally, and often the only doctors providing medical care in rural areas outside cities in many countries.

“Out of more than seven billion people on the planet, the World Health Organisation estimates that one billion have little or no access to health care services,” he says in the new Flinders University’s 50th Anniversary publication The Investigator Transformed.

“With the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations, we have an opportunity to change that by strengthening primary health care with the aim of achieving universal health coverage.”

In the United Nations’ new Sustainable Development Goals, released in September 2015, there is only one specific health goal, to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”, even though attaining each of the 17 new goals relies on healthy people in healthy communities.

“This renewed global focus on universal health coverage provides an unprecedented opportunity to reform global health care and the role of primary health care,” Professor Kidd says.

The WONCA does its fair share, representing more than 600,000 family doctors in more than 160 countries and the interests of more than two billion patients.

Professor Kidd believes there is a great need to promote the importance of people-centred health care and the need to strengthen primary health care and multidisciplinary team approaches to community-based health care delivery in each country of the world.

At the Flinders Investigators Lecture, Professor Kidd AM will provide his global perspective on why strengthening primary health care is the most viable way to close the treatment gap and ensure that all people in all communities get access to the health care they need.

UNIVERSAL HEALTH RESEARCH:

Global health and universal health care: how do we ensure everybody in the world gets access to health care?

Wednesday 19 October, 5.30-6.45pm

Flinders University, 182 Victoria Square, Lecture Theatre 1 (Level 1)

Register online: www.flinders.edu.au/flindersinvestigators

An extensive collection of profiles on Flinders University leaders, students, graduates, researchers, academics and supporters in the 50th Anniversary special publication, The Investigator Transformed, can be viewed online at the website here.

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