Co-development is key to improving worldwide healthcare

Published: 5 May 2011 at 12:08

Lord Crisp sets out his vision for reform in Anglia Ruskin University speech

Lord Crisp KCB told an audience at Anglia Ruskin University last night (4 May) that the UK and other developed nations should look to poorer countries for ways of improving healthcare provision, just as they continue to learn from us.

Nigel Crisp is an independent crossbench member of the House of Lords working mainly on international development and global health. From 2000 to 2006, he was both Chief Executive of the NHS, the largest health organisation in the world, and Permanent Secretary of the UK Department of Health, during which time he led major reforms of the English health system.

His recent book, Turning the World Upside Down, focuses on the subject of mutual learning between rich and poor countries that he developed in his 2007 report for the Prime Minister – Global Health Partnerships: the UK contribution to health in developing countries.

Speaking at Anglia Ruskin’s new Postgraduate Medical Institute in Chelmsford, Lord Crisp stressed that co-development is key to the future of healthcare provision throughout the world.

He said:

“There is an unfair import export business in people and ideas that flourishes between rich and poor countries. Rich countries import trained health workers and export their ideas and ideology about health in poorer ones, whether or not they are appropriate or useful.

“What if we were to turn the world upside down – so the import export business was reversed and poorer countries exported their ideas and experience whilst richer ones exported their health workers?

“Health leaders in poorer countries, without the resources or the baggage of rich countries, have learned to innovate, to build on the strengths of the population and their communities and develop new approaches that are relevant for the rich and poor alike.

“At the same time, richer countries and their health workers could help poorer countries to train, in their own country, the workers they need for the future. They would help pay a debt for all the workers who have migrated and learn themselves the new ways of working, which they will need in the 21st Century.

“We could stop talking about international development – as something the rich world does to the poor – and start talking about co-development, our shared learning and shared future. There is already a movement of people and ideas travelling in this direction.

“Young people get this intuitively. Many thousands of young professionals want a different professional education for themselves – in global health. Together with the leaders from poorer countries and the innovators around the world, they are creating a new global vision for health.”

Professor David Humber, Dean of the Faculty of Health & Social Care at Anglia Ruskin, said:

“It was a privilege to listen to Lord Crisp’s vision of a two-way exchange of healthcare practice between developed and developing countries and, speaking from personal experience, it is something that I wholeheartedly endorse.”