PLOS Medicine and BioMed Central are proud to be co-sponsoring this year’s MSF Scientific Day and have co-written this joint blog on both the Speaking of Medicine and the BioMed Central blog to mark the occasion.
Streamed live on 23rd May 2014 from the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) in London, MSF Scientific Day is a unique opportunity to showcase medical and scientific research carried out in MSF programmes around the world. MSF provides medical aid to populations in over 60 countries affected by armed conflicts, epidemics, famines, natural disasters and those excluded from healthcare. The MSF Scientific Day was a huge success last year with over 2000 people taking part, 1700 of them tuning in from 92 different countries, with a keynote speech by international health expert, Hans Rosling on the synergy and conflict between research and advocacy.
MSF launched its Access Campaign in 1999 to advocate for access to and development of medicines, diagnostic tests, and vaccines for patients in MSF programmes, as well as promoting the dissemination of data and research for those in low- and middle-income countries.
In 2012 MSF decided to adopt a data sharing policy for routinely collected clinical and research data, and the rationale for the policy was recently described in a PLOS Medicine article. As open access publishers, PLOS and BioMed Central believe that research findings, and their underlying data, should be accessible to read and reuse by everyone. Publishing MSF research in open access journals such as PLOS Medicine and Conflict and Health allows for freely available and accessible publication of research, without barriers to access or reuse. MSF has published its findings and experience in both PLOS Medicine and Conflict and Health on topics such as neglect of older people in humanitarian emergencies, counselling in humanitarian settings and provision of antiretroviral treatment in conflict settings and supports open access to its research findings.
Charles Ssonko, who works at MSF as a medical doctor responsible for delivering specialist field advice and support for TB and HIV programmes, reiterated the importance of being able to access and consult medical literature in the field for patients:
“The problem is that it can be very difficult to get… information when you need it. Although the internet is becoming readily accessible in most of our settings, it is often difficult to access research as many of the clinical articles are closed access. MSF provides a range of guidelines and medical information in all of its field programmes… but for full treatment details and case studies you need to access the literature to be able to give patients the best possible care.”
The agenda for this year’s MSF Scientific Day has been finalised. The keynote speech will be by public health and human rights expert Dr Jennifer Leaning, Director of the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health on The role of evidence in humanitarian decision-making. There will also be a panel discussion, chaired by Dr Paul Spiegel from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on research in emergency settings: priorities and translation.
Original research will be presented in four sessions:
- HIV and TB: testing strategies and treatment
- Research in settings of emergencies, violence and conflict
- Outbreaks and eradication: reflection and examination
- Research for policy and treatment change
Get involved in the debate by following @MSFsci on Twitter using the #MSFSci hashtag or pop along to the BioMed Central and PLOS Medicine stands at the event!
Journal Development Editor
Paul Simpson & Bethany Jones