Building Sustainable Capacity in Health Research through e-Learning in Resource Constrained Countries

Building Sustainable Capacity in Health Research through e-Learning in Resource Constrained Countries

Manu Gupta (IIHMR University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0466-5.ch014
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Abstract

Social determinants like income level, nutrition, education, occupation, gender, and poverty influence the health status of individual, resulting in wide disparities in the health status of different socio-economic groups. Efforts to reduce health inequities can be strengthened by incorporating a Social Determinants of Health approach in creating Health Care policy. This will require an increase in the number of scientists in low and middle-income countries, with the necessary skills. This chapter focuses on a novel capacity building approach, adopted by a European Union funded project, entitled “Asian Regional Capacity Development for Research on Social Determinants of Health”. The project uses innovative educational technologies to deliver education and training that would be helpful in building new research training capacity on social determinants of health, in low and middle-income countries. The capacity building approach adopted by the project, will reduce brain drain, is more climate friendly and also encourage gender equity within low and middle-income country-based training.
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Background

Importance of Health Research

The social determinants of health (SDH) are the conditions into which people are born, live, work, and age, including the area of health system. These conditions play a critical role in maintaining the health status of the people. They are risk factors found in one's living and working conditions (like distribution of income, wealth, influence, and power), rather than individual factors (like behavioural risk factors or genetics) which influence the risk of disease or increases vulnerability to disease or injury. The social determinants of health are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources at global, national, and local levels and are mostly responsible for health inequities – the unavoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries. (WHO, Social Determinants of Health, 2012)

Health inequities are a major concern and are a key focus for policy makers in low and middle income countries. Reducing health inequities can improve outcomes for public health programmes, while also promoting social justice and human right to health. (Whitehead, 1992; Lee, 2005).

According to the World Health Organization’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health, health inequities are the result of policy failures (WHO, 2012). An effective policy to tackle health inequity must address the underlying social conditions that make disadvantaged people more vulnerable (Marmot, 2005). Without an effective action on the social determinants of health, many countries will neither meet the Millennium Development Goals (Millennium Project,2006), nor can they attain the global targets for reducing chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes (Strong, Mathers, Leeder, & Beaglehode, 2005). Efforts to improve health equity can be reduced by incorporating a SDH approach with the exiting approaches (Satcher, 2010).

Adopting this approach will require a substantial increase in number of scientists with the necessary skills. This local capacity (enough people to do the job) is required for research on SDH, promotion of multidisciplinary research, and dissemination of research findings to guide policymaking (WHO, 2004).

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