Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I’m speaking at a major conference on global health, organised by the European Commission, in a session on health research (organised by DG Research). Some great presentations in the session, expertly organised by Kevin McCarthy and Jan Paehler from DG Research, looking at what research has contributed to global health. My task is to talk about what Europe can offer the world. The answer is – a lot. Our strength is our diversity. The observation that heart disease is so much lower in southern Europe than in northern Europe led to the research identifying the importance of the Mediterranean diet. That led on to the EPIC study that has done so much to advance our understanding of the role of diet in cancer. Another is the EUROTHINE study, providing important new insights into health inequalities. Then there is the diversity in policy responses. Research such as that in the EUROCARE project, showing marked differences in cancer survival, has contributed greatly to how we deliver cancer care in several countries. And finally, there is the European expertise in developing capacity for health research, drawing on experience in central Europe in the 1990s and in the former Soviet Union more recently. There are relatively few opportunities for researchers in rich and poor countries to meet together. This was a rare and valuable example.