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A highly recommended read for those who would seek a solid introduction to the discipline and methodology of undertaking a formal analysis of the future as it relates to public health. The futures approach is a well defined discipline that uses a range of tools to construct a scenario and vision of the future in order to give policy makers a long range perspective. It is targeted at public sector health service managers in developing countries, and assumes readers have no previous experience in the concepts and techniques of futures studies. The reader is given a comprehensive approach to developing scenarios that anticipate the future impact of demographic trends, new health care technologies, global climate change, newly emerging diseases, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the effect of market forces on access to essential drugs. Using these techniques will provide managers with the tools to break the pattern of habitual “crisis management”, and motivate for action at the appropriate time.
The book has nine chapters. The first two cover an introduction to the concepts of futures, and give useful examples of futures projects in a variety of health care settings and countries. Chapters three to six describe the methodology of futures exercises: initiating and funding projects; using different designs; and the different tools to use. A useful section describes the use of computer software, models, and tool kits. Chapter seven gives a comprehensive review of the application of futures techniques to health. Chapters eight and nine provide details on printed and online information resources and a directory of health futures organisations, training courses and potential funding sources. A comprehensive glossary of new terms makes the book very accessible to novices.
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