Friday, 6 February 2009

MS research and justice in health research

I've learned today about new research potentially linking MS to vitamin D deficiency. Delighted as I am that progress is being made in research and prevention of the disease I suffer from, this news set me thinking. Part of our management course today was to reflect on how justice and peace issues are dealt with in the agendas of our different organisations and churches. After the flowering of interest and commitment to these issues in the 1970s and 1980s the way that institutions talk about them now is rather more low key.
Yet justice touches almost every single area of our existence - none more so than health. Tomorrow we will for instance apply what we have learned so far in our leadership training to the single issue of water. Water is essential for life and for good health. Yet access to clean drinking water, to water to irrigate crops, to sanitation is often restricted. Politics and profit begin to matter more than people.
Yesterday I read about our friend Pauline Mackay starting her new job at Church World Service in New Zealand. I was shocked to read that ninety percent of the world's health research is on diseases affecting 10% of the world's population. Huge sums are put into research into MS and I am truly very grateful - my expensive drug, for which there is as yet no fairly traded version, keeps me healthier than if it didn't exist. Meanwhile diseases affecting huge numbers of the world's population remain in the research twilight zone. No money to be made out of selling drugs to poor people, they don't have insurance so their illnesses will go almost unnoticed. Another case of market forces being deadly ...