Dr Aref Batayneh is the Jordanian minister of health and a clinical professor in obstetrics and gynaecology

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 03 January 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:7
  1. Fiona Godlee

    What do you see as the major health challenges of the next five years, and how should the WHO address them?

    New emerging diseases and problems resulting from a lack of equity created by the disparity in distribution of income within and among countries will constitute a major challenge. The continuously increasing cost of health services and health technology—which may be prohibitive for some countries—will also add to these challenges. The increasing occurrence of manmade and natural disasters; the degradation taking place in the environment; and the negative lifestyles, such as smoking, drug addiction, and violence, especially against women and children, will continue to constitute a major challenge for all health institutions and professionals.

    A special think tank at the WHO's headquarters and regional offices should use the available staff, expertise, and resources within the WHO to monitor, analyse, and react to challenges. The WHO should be able to assume a normative role as well as helping disadvantaged countries build their health service infrastructure. The WHO should take action in cooperation with member states to increase its resources to monitor and reduce the negative effects of all these challenges.

    Should the WHO be addressing the effects of socioeconomic factors on health, and if so, how?

    The answer is …

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