Global health diagnostics: we need to address demand and supply

Today's BMJ Global Health carries our paper, a summary of an online discussion focused on global health diagnostics.

Go to the profile of Madhukar Pai
Dec 06, 2016
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Diagnostics are critical for global health. Several barriers challenge development, adoption and scale-up of diagnostics in low and middle income countries. An innovative global health discussion platform allows capturing insights from the global health community on factors driving demand and supply for diagnostics. In a paper, just published in BMJ Global Health, our team conducted a qualitative content analysis of the online discussion ‘Advancing Care Delivery: Driving Demand and Supply of Diagnostics’ organised by the Global Health Delivery Project (GHD) (http://www.ghdonline.org/) at Harvard University.

The discussion, driven by 12 expert panellists, explored what must be done to develop delivery systems, business models, new technologies, interoperability standards, and governance mechanisms to ensure that patients receive the right diagnostic at the right time. The GHD Online (GHDonline) platform reaches over 19 000 members from 185 countries. Participants (N=99) in the diagnostics discussion included academics, non-governmental organisations, manufacturers, policymakers, and physicians.

Participants considered technical characteristics of diagnostics as smaller barriers to effective use of diagnostics compared with operational and health system challenges, such as logistics, poor fit with user needs, cost, workforce, infrastructure, access, weak regulation and political commitment (Figure 1).

Suggested solutions included: health system strengthening with patient-centred delivery; strengthened innovation processes; improved knowledge base; harmonised guidelines and evaluation; supply chain innovations; and mechanisms for ensuring quality and capacity (Figure 2).

Engaging and connecting different actors involved with diagnostic development and use is paramount for improving diagnostics. While the discussion participants were not representative of all actors involved, the platform enabled a discussion between globally acknowledged experts and physicians working in different countries.

The full paper is open access at: http://gh.bmj.com/content/1/4/e000132

Go to the profile of Madhukar Pai

Madhukar Pai

Director, McGill Global Health Programs

I am a Professor and a Canada Research Chair in Epidemiology & Global Health at McGill University, Montreal. I serve as the Director of McGill Global Health Programs, and Associate Director of the McGill International TB Centre.

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