Lancet editor Richard Horton says global health getting weird, or maybe a little too American

The editor of the British medical journal The Lancet, Richard Horton, gave the closing speech at the Global Health Metrics and Evaluation meeting in Seattle on Wednesday.

Horton said: “There’s something weird going on in the field of global health science.”

What’s weird, he says, is that the center of gravity in global health research is increasingly shifting away from the traditional multilateral institutions of public health based in Europe (like the World Health Organization?) and is increasingly dominated by American academic institutions (like the Gates Foundation-funded Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation here in Seattle?).

While the quality of the American research is to be celebrated, Horton urged that the global health community come together to establish priorities and agree on how to evaluate progress.

It was a bit rambling, but the Lancet editor is always entertaining. More importantly, he seemed to be asking the global health community to collaborate on strengthening the traditional, multilateral international public health institutions now under threat of further erosion and loss of influence.

Though he didn’t name names, it sounded like Horton is worried that too much of the global health agenda is being set in Seattle. Is that what he’s saying here? You be the judge. I’m missing the first few minutes of this video (sorry about that) but you’ll get the gist of it:

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.