Science speaks to politics, policy and power precisely because it has evidence. But it must do so using ever-more complex, contingent and contested knowledge. Claim and counter-claim of 'evidence-based policy versus policy-biased evidence' are indistinguishable. The practice of science has been re-shaped by endogenous and exogenous forces in recent decades. Public policy-making, too, has changed in a number of ways.
As health science diplomacy becomes further established as an effective way to bring nations together to address local and regional health challenges, key principles are taking shape, said Alan I. Leshner, the chief executive officer of AAAS and the executive publisher of the journal Science, at the sixth World Science Forum, held this year in Rio de Janeiro.
World Science Forum issued five recommendations towards a more responsible and ethical conduct of research and innovation while underscoring the need to greater integrate the voices and actions of government, society, industry and media:
SciCom’s health panel generated a lively but timely assessment of the inherent risks of simply ‘exporting’ as best practice the killer diseases, killer policies and expensive but failing health systems of the richer and more ‘developed’ world to so-called ‘emerging’ economies. Whereas emphasis differed, panelist case-studies (see session slides) clearly showed the absurd and unsustainable nature of global health and development policy. EU Chief Science Adviser, Prof. Anne Glover flagged how hunger and malnutrition as the leading cause of preventable death is a ‘choice we make and impose and not something that just happens. Only 1% of EU development aid goes to health in real terms and Horizon 2020, the world’s largest investment programme in science will dedicate 10%’. South African Deputy-Minister Michael Masutha challenged the perception that non-white-men could not do it for themselves, stressing the good science happening right now in places like Africa that often gets unreported and has to fight its corner to be valued in the scientific community.