A BIHSENA course "Inovations for the health of people and society" was piloted in Tomsk, Russia, in May 2017. 25 learners successfully completed the course and evaluated highly its content and ative education approach!
The goal of the course is to provide a comprehensive picture of the processes involved in innovating for health on different levels, using insights from a variety of social sciences, and to provide practical skills to use thus theoretical knowledge to make science and technology work for health.
Science and technology offer new possibilities for treating diseases and improving quality of life. Nowadays innovations in the field of health, including drugs, medical devices, new services and forms of organization, are emerging at a rapid pace. They have an immediate connection to public health and well-being as ways to respond to major longstanding health problems, for example various forms of cancer faced by increasing numbers of people; to tackle new health threats, such as drug-resistant tuberculosis and AIDS that endanger large populations; and to ward off ageing, infirmity, mental decline, and other conditions humanity has dreamed of breaking free from for centuries. Furthermore, innovations for health in such fields as pharmaceuticals also tend to be associated with vast economic profits. More generally, health innovations appear to hold great promise of better futures, tapping into imaginaries of prosperous, just, and cohesive societies, where people whose health needs are met live better and more productive lives.
However, new health innovations often are not implemented in practice as is promised and an ‘’implementation gap’’ becomes a challenge, when innovations fail to fit local circumstances. Moreover, health innovations may raise new moral and social issues, as exemplified for instance by controversies about the ethics of treatments using stem cells derived from human embryos, and shifts in the ideas of kinship, introduced by new reproductive technologies. Hence, it is imperative to analyze and develop health innovations, taking account of both technoscientific and social processes involved. Following this approach, this course investigates how scientific and technological advances – often played out on a global or corporate stage – can translate into health innovations that work and meet the needs and concerns people, including disadvantaged members of society, at a local level. The course highlights the challenges posed by making science and technology work for human health and offers insights for designing effective, inclusive and responsible health innovations.