The virtual SPARKS conference taking place on 2-3 December will gather a network of global leaders in public policy and research to facilitate the exchange of knowledge on social protection and health. Knut Lönnroth is the founder of the SPARKS and Professor of Social Medicine.
“The aim with the conference is to review the latest evidence and explore the way forward for stronger intersectoral action across the SDGs on universal health coverage and other forms of health-related social protection.
While the SDGs provide an excellent framework for joint action, the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis pandemics long before that have demonstrated that social protection interventions are important yet underutilized tools in the public health and the clinical toolbox. Systems for income security in times of ill health and social support through treatment and rehabilitation are some examples. We need more research to determine how best to use those tools in different situations.“, says Knut Lönnroth.
After the two days, what would you like the take-home message to be for the participants?
“That social protection is health protection, and that health care is social protection. And, therefore, that health and social care interventions must be planned and implemented in a coordinated manner, with interlinked governance and financing structures.“
Any item on the agenda that you are looking forward to?
“I am looking forward to every single talk. They span macro-level overviews by high-level representatives from international organizations to grass-root experiences of affected communities, as well as evidence reviews by researchers.
I am very hopeful that the conference will demonstrate how both global and local perspectives are needed to move the global health agenda forward and how research can support that, including the work we do under the SPARKS umbrella.”