Tom Daschle and Nigel Crisp discuss Global Health Care
“It’ll be some time before we can look toward passing something truly comprehensive,” said former Senator Tom Daschle as part of the Institute’s Global Health Roundtable Series on Thursday. In the aftermath of the Democrats’ loss in the special election in Massachusetts, the future of US health care reform was on everybody’s minds. “The fear-mongers in this country won,” Daschle continued, referring to reform opponents’ claims of death panels, government take-overs, and skyrocketing costs. “I think Americans just can’t accept that we aren’t the best,” he said of the health care system. Daschle, who is now advising the administration on health care policy, went on to lambaste the congressional supermajority necessary to passing legislation. Contentious issues requiring a supermajority—from climate change to nuclear proliferation to health care—are “increasingly going to make us less relevant,” he lamented.
Daschle also expressed concern that the public conflates technological progress with excellent health care: “Technology in and of itself is not a good index for quality of care.” It was a point echoed by Lord Nigel Crisp, global health expert, member of the House of Lords in England, and author of Turning the World Upside Down: The Search for Global Health in the 21st Century; Crisp is a proponent of learning from developing nations instead of just bringing science to them. “Western medicine and technology is not what is needed alone,” he said. Crisp pointed to programs that incentivize the poor to get health care (as a pre-condition of benefits or of school enrollment), countries where doctors are trained quickly in specific procedures rather than staying in school for a decade, and communities where health and wellness are valued as a part of everyday life. “It is no surprise,” said Crisp, “that people with so little are so innovative.” He also reminded the audience that global health is not simply a moral duty or a matter of charity. “It is self-interest,” he said, noting that global pandemics have no borders.
Daschle concurred, adding: “There’s an idea that the Third World is irrelevant and dependent,” when in fact developing nations are “relevant and co-dependent.”
Inaugural lunchtime roundtable discussion of U.S. and U.K. experiences in major health care reform and new visions for global health in the 21st century.