The Lancet at 200: a start, but more to do (1) HIFA-WHO Collaboration (3)

7 January, 2023

Dear HIFA colleagues,

'Thomas Wakley, a 27-year-old apothecary, surgeon, and sometime boxer, founded The Lancet in 1823... he saw The Lancet as an instrument (hence the journal's unusual name) to cut out the corruption in medicine... Wakley's idea — that The Lancet should somehow be more than a scientific journal of record — remains an animating spirit for us today. We believe that the academic medical community is a vastly neglected contributor to social progress. We believe that through extraordinary partnerships, the science we publish can be used as an instrument to accelerate action to advance health and health equity. We believe that medicine and medical research are political as well as scientific activities...'

So begins the lead editorial in today's Lancet.

I note in particular that The Lancet will include in 2023 a focus on...

- 'All sectors of society to have a responsibility to bridge the gap between knowledge and action — demanding and ensuring that evidence is used by policy makers to guide and inform their decision making'

- 'Policy makers, funders, and scientists to give greater recognition to the part played by research participants in advancing knowledge and understanding about health'

(I would add that access to reliable health information is needed not only for policymakers, but for *all* health decision making, from a parent deciding what to do when their child is sick, to a health worker being able to diagnose and provide effective treatment, to a policymaker building evidence-informed health systems. All of this is fundamentally dependent on the publication of robust research by journals such as The Lancet. Governments have a responsibility not only to give greater recognition to researchers, but also to provide an enabling environment for the availability and use of reliable healthcare information by all stakeholders.)

HIFA stands ready to contribute to The Lancet's agenda in 2023. Our key challenge in 2023 is 'To identify best practices, opportunities and challenges from relevant health related stakeholders, towards pursuing universal access to reliable healthcare information' and deliver a report to WHO by the end of 2023. This is the first of 10 activities described in our 3-year collaboration plan with WHO to accelerate progress towards universal access to reliable healthcare information, as an NGO in official relations. A multistakeholder consultation of HIFA members and the wider global health community is in planning and will be launched soon.

Best wishes, Neil

Dr Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator

Healthcare Information For All

Global Healthcare Information Network

Working in Official Relations with the World Health Organization

20,000 members, 400 supporting organisations, 180 countries, 6 forums, 4 languages