Re: A BMJ for the United States
The decision by the management and editorial team at the BMJ to launch an American edition of bmj.com (1) has the potential to improve access to health research and evidence specific to that world region. This innovative move can also improve engagement with health related issues in that part of the world as well as encourage more robust debate regarding health research and related issues.
The BMJ brand is known for a high standard of thoroughness and quality. Among international general medical journals, the BMJ is recognised globally for its credibility and reliability. In fact it is not only respected by medical professionals, but also by other professionals and practitioners in the healthcare sector. Even within the BMJ Group, there is a sense of uniqueness and nobility in the way workers perceive the organisation’s objectives (2).
It is based on the association of the BMJ with these values that one wonders about the choice of the USA as the first region to benefit from the innovative “geotargetting” approach. Considering how much medical and healthcare journalism can contribute to strengthening healthcare systems, it could be argued that the territories with the greatest need require the most urgent allocation of relevant resources. Especially if such a resource is as innovative as this one is.
Complex problems in sub-Saharan African healthcare systems mean that access to healthcare in the region is inadequate. Despite global health initiatives such as the millennium development goals, there are indications that more work needs to be done in the region (3). In addition to supporting relevant projects, the international community of healthcare stakeholders also closely monitor fairness and equity regarding resource allocation to this region. For instance, the pharmaceutical industry has been criticised for neglecting the development of drugs against tropical diseases (4).
It should then be logical to assume that the “geotargeting” technology would first be employed in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, where there is a desperate need for robust debate and evidence based practice. Although the decision by the management and editorial at the BMJ may have been underpinned by other relevant factors, this journal must not neglect the consideration of established British values such as equity and fairness in the way their resources are allocated.
1.Payne D. and Godlee F. A BMJ for the United States. 2012. [online] Available at: http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e6628 (accessed 10 th November 2012).
2.BMJ Group. Why work for BMJ Group. 2012. [online] Available at: http://group.bmj.com/group/employment/why-work-for-bmj-group (accessed 21st November 2012).
3.Sanders D. et al. "Confronting Africa's health crisis: more of the same will not be enough." BMJ 2005; 331(7519): 755-758.
4.Schull M. Pharmaceutical industry should lead the development of new drugs. 2000. [online] Available at: http://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/10/28/pharmaceutical-industry-sho... (accessed 14th November 2012).
Competing interests: The Author is from sub-Saharan Africa.