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Winter/Spring 2004 Vol. 4 No. 1



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BRIEF TAKES



InterAcademy Council report release at the United Nations, Feb. 5, 2004, U.N. photos by Reynaldo Reyes Building
S&T Capacity
Around the World

The InterAcademy Council (IAC), an organization created by 90 of the world's science academies, released its first study in February at a United Nations ceremony hosted by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The report, Inventing a Better Future: A Strategy for Building Worldwide Capacities in Science and Technology, recommends that every nation, whether industrialized or developing, work to enhance its own S&T capacity in consultation with national scientific, engineering, medical, and industrial communities.

Challenges such as stimulating economic growth, mitigating environmental problems, and responding quickly to sudden outbreaks of new diseases all require that such capacity already be in place, the report says. In the case of developing countries, national strategies need to reflect local priorities, spell out adequate sources of funding, and emphasize regional cooperation.

These and other findings were laid out by Jacob Palis, a professor at the Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada in Brazil, and Ismail Serageldin, director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, who co-chaired a study panel of experts from 11 countries that wrote the report.

InterAcademy Council report release at the United Nations, Feb. 5, 2004, U.N. photos by Reynaldo Reyes

At the ceremony in New York City, NAS President Bruce Alberts -- who co-chairs the IAC with Goverdhan Mehta, past president of the Indian Academy of Sciences -- formally presented the report to the secretary-general. Mark Malloch Brown, administrator of United Nations Development Programme, moderated a question-and-answer session with representatives from the U.N. member delegations. And Mamphela Ramphele, managing director at the World Bank and a member of the study panel, spoke about next steps to implement the report's findings.

The InterAcademy Council, headquartered at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam, was formed in 2000 to mobilize the world's best scientists to provide expert knowledge to international bodies. Future IAC reports will focus on such topics as agricultural productivity in Africa and global transitions to sustainable energy systems. Inventing a Better Future is available free online at <www.interacademycouncil.net>.   -- William Skane


New Initiative to Improve Public Health

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While the Institute of Medicine is well-known for its expert advice and scholarly reports on health issues, much of this information is only distributed to a limited group of policy-makers and interested parties. Many recommendations that would help underserved and disadvantaged communities are often not readily accessible to the very communities they strive to help.

To change this, the Institute of Medicine has initiated the Kellogg Health of the Public Fund. The fund was made possible by an initial grant of $2.5 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, as well as a commitment to match up to $2.5 million in additional funds raised by the Institute.

The $7.5 million endowed fund will allow IOM to develop pamphlets, CD-ROMs, videos, online publications, and other tools to increase the accessibility of a wealth of health information. The endowment will also enable the Institute to organize regional and local forums, training programs, community meetings, and other events in partnership with community health organizations.

"The Kellogg Health of the Public Fund will support Institute communication and dissemination activities that will have the greatest impact in creating healthy communities, particularly in areas that traditionally have been underserved and have had little access to high-quality health services and information about public health," said IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg.

"A public that is fully informed and empowered to make decisions about health and health care is essential for the nation's well-being, and the Institute of Medicine is the ideal organization to take a leading role in getting scientifically validated health information out to public health professionals and communities," said William Richardson, president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich., was established in 1930 to help people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations. For information on how to make a gift in support of IOM's Kellogg initiative, contact Bruce G. Flynn at tel. 202-334-2431 or e-mail <bflynn@nas.edu>.   -- Heather A. McDonald



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