Peter Robbins speaks at European NoPILLS project


Peter Robbins made a presentation as a member of the advisory board to the European NoPILLS Project Team at their meeting in Glasgow 12-14 March 2014.  NoPILLS http://www.no-pills.eu/ is a European Cooperation project studying pharmaceutical waste in watercourses, and is informed by proposed changes in the European Water Framework Directive to cover these pollutants.  Peter’s presentation outlined how reflexive engineering (Robbins, 2007) approaches to water and waste management might help develop integrated socio-technical scenarios to address the issue.

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IKD Workshop - Innovating for Local Health: Addressing Local Needs in a Globalised Context


Innovating for Local Health: Addressing Local Needs in a Globalised Context
25th April 2014, 9.30 am – 5.00 pm, Jennie Lee Building, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA

Local health needs of developing and developed countries are multifaceted and dynamic but can be hard for local actors to define and address within the highly structured context of ‘global health’. Global health policies and practices tend necessarily to top-down and can obscure the varying patterns of local health needs and local health sector environments. Global health initiatives operate by identifying major global killers, including pandemics and epidemics, and neglected diseases that are susceptible to international initiative.  Their success is well understood to rely on the ability of local actors to meet and mitigate local challenges.

This workshop seeks to explore the scope for sharing local perspectives on local health systems, within the current globalized policy and funding contexts. Innovatively, we aim to bring together local perspectives on innovation in health systems from the UK and low and middle income countries (LMICs), to explore topics including impact, equity, risk and governance of innovations in and for local public health. In doing so, the workshop aims to share and interrogate evidence on the importance of the connection between the ‘global’ and the ‘local’ and to build a network of researchers studying innovation for local public health within a global context.


Confirmed Speakers

  • Maureen Mackintosh (OU)
  • Mike Rowson (UCL)
  • Dinar Kale (OU)
  • Geoff Banda (OU)
  • Smita Srinivas (Columbia)
  • Martin Higginsaon (OU)
  • Jo Chataway (RAND Europe and OU)
  • Julius Mugwagwa (OU)

Target audience: academics, policy makers, development experts and practitioners working on local and global health issues.   

Registration: for more information or to register please contact Louise Topley: dt363@openmail.ac.uk  

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Local pharma in Africa: going nowhere, slowly?


Julius Mugwagwa, reflects on status of pharmaceutical industry in Africa based on his recent visit to South Africa and Zimbabwe. 

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Blogpost: Punching Above Their Weight in Pursuit of Good Health


By Julius Mugwagwa

A field trip to Zimbabwe and South Africa in July for meetings and discussions with stakeholders as part of the innovative spending in health project was as expected thought-provoking in more ways than one. Discussions with various people in the continuum from ordinary people and families in rural communities to leading academics and surgeons revealed that indeed there are many innovative practices being employed for the sake of delivering health to people. As would be expected, the practices have positive and negative effects alike on the individuals, institutions and the broader health care system.

One health seeking trend that has taken root in the two countries over the years is the preference by people to use private doctors and clinics, as opposed to public clinics and hospitals. There are a number of reasons motivating this, ranging from lived experiences and perceptions of lack of delivery on the part of these frontline health delivery facilities to changing human preferences as people become more ‘affluent’ and therefore cannot afford to be ‘seen’ queuing for hours on end at a government clinic. Some people also feel that one major deterrent is the attitude of the staff (especially nurses) at these facilities. User fees paid at these clinics are still very low, and health staff are all too aware that the patient is not the ‘boss’ in this case, hence the staff can get away with ‘big brother’ or ‘big sister’ attitudes. Factor in the ideational and financial influence of the people in the diaspora, especially for Zimbabwe … ‘mum, you can’t wait in the queue for that long with your painful legs, only to get simple painkillers … we are sending money for you to the go to the private doctor … don’t worry about the cost, we will pay, your health is more important’ … then, yes, you have more people against the primary health facilities than for the facilities.

Tracing the journey that brought things to where they are now reveals a lot of complex realities. Many years of little, if any, improvement in the primary healthcare facilities due to economic challenges and pressure on these facilities from increasing populations and mounting health challenges have meant that these facilities are indeed failing to deliver. This has necessitated entry into the space of different other players to cater for the needs, and while this happens, for the service users and providers alike, the focus on cost often remains overshadowed and as one health policy manager noted … ‘we are usually alerted to these cases of high hospital fees, not by the patients, but their relatives or other stakeholders not directly using the service at the time in question. Those in need of a treatment, where they have room to choose, usually go for the option where service is guaranteed. Cost becomes a secondary issue when one is choosing between being well and being unwell, and those making business out of health know this’.

This issue raises a number of pertinent points with respect to health delivery, from institutional capacity, health delivery models, patient and broader stakeholder awareness and health-seeking behaviours to the role of policy; further broadening (and complicating!!) the horizons of inquiry for the question ‘what should money be spent on to make health innovations more effective in developing countries?

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