January 27th, 2009

An Ambassador for Global Health Research

By Scott Ratzan, MD, Vice President, Global Health, Government Affairs, Johnson & Johnson

As many of us here in the US brace for several days of bitter cold, which carries with it the risk of illness and injury, I’m reminded of the important role that global health research plays in improving people’s lives.

Whether it is the over-the-counter treatments taken to help alleviate the symptoms of the common cold, the prescription antibiotics taken to knock out a bacterial infection, or the hip and knee replacements that help restore mobility, most of us have no doubt benefited in some way from the byproducts of medical research.

Yet all too often we forget that people in some of the world’s poorest nations aren’t so fortunate and lack the information and options needed to treat some of the debilitating diseases that affect them. But now I hope to do something more to help raise awareness of this situation.

I recently had the honor of being named one of twenty five “ambassadors” selected by Research!America’s Paul G. Rogers Society for Global Health Research to advocate for greater US investment in global health research. As part of effort, I’ll be joining some of our nation’s foremost health research experts in an effort to encourage a more robust national discussion on the value and importance of global health research.

Together with my fellow Ambassadors I hope to meet with policymakers and opinion leaders to advocate for increased US investment in global health research to fight the diseases that disproportionately affect the world’s poorest nations.

It s quite invigorating to be in a group that includes some of the world’s foremost scientists, physicians and health care providers who specialize in critical areas, including neglected and emerging tropical diseases, TB and polio. I think, however, that our experiences at Johnson & Johnson provide a unique vantage point to advance health and well-being globally.

I hope to draw upon these experiences to advance global health diplomacy and to make suggestions to improve health literacy, to encourage prudent policy making and to help different regional leaders determine how best to approach the different health issues that impact their communities.

It’s a start — but hopefully by sharing innovative ideas together we can help advance health globally.

One Response to “An Ambassador for Global Health Research”

  1. David Mickle says

    Scott, congratulations. Too often the discussion falls from keeping the patient at the center of the work we do in this industry. J&J is doing well in this area but as you mention, this conversation needs to be promoted repeatedly to a wide audience for there to be significant improvement. Seems like that is your challenge (!) but the tools are available to do so.

    Congrats again on the honor. Hope to hear updates from you in this blog.

    – David

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