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Special Interest Groups 2 E. Frew Hello Emma, Thanks for the great question. I see these groups as a key part of the future of iHEA, really turning it into a membership led organisation which will benefit health economics around the globe. iHEA offers a great forum for these Special Interest Groups (SIGs). They help bring members together, and support interests taking iHEA beyond being just a conference every two years. Your group on obesity, where capacity needs to be built in an area where economics can really make a difference. Lets face it, there has been a huge amount of research into obesity but rates around the world are still on the increase, especially in LMICs. How can economics actually make a difference? I think the SIG can bring together people around the world, sharing experiences and ideas, not just from rich countries, and not just those who have been working on this for years, but early career researchers with the fresh new ideas. I’m in India right now, there is huge scope here in this area - iHEA can help build such capacity. So how can iHEA help? By facilitating these groups and helping bring people together in the first instance, hosting web pages and online forums, and supporting events - workshops, pre conference sessions (not just at iHEA meetings) in places where such meetings don’t normally happen. Allowing interaction with researchers and policy makers outside the usual geographic areas, and different sorts of meetings, allowing more in depth discussions, not just the presentation of brief academic papers, but finding out what policy makers in different countries really need, and how as economists we can help. Other ideas for support include helping find sponsors, and raising money to bring people to these meetings who may not normally be able to get there. The economics of obesity needs some fresh new ideas, from fresh new people, and this really is a great way forward. I’m also looking forward to seeing which other SIGs emerge, its an exciting idea, and your group is forging the way ahead. I certainly fully support this initiative, I was actively involved in supporting its development. Its just one of the ways the members can take the organisation forward into being the leading international health economics organisation it should be, and is starting to become under the wonderful new leadership. The i in iHEA is really important - its not just another forum for people to present their papers, then disappear home, the SIGs will make sure work springs from all sorts of places, continues and builds capacity in health economics - capacity that can hopefully make a difference.Thanks for pushing forward with this new group, and the great question.Cheers,Bruce
by Bruce Hollingsworth
Monday, November 20, 2017
Question - Making iHEA more relevant for its non-academic members 2 M. Hensher Dear Martin Thank you for your question. I am sorry for the delay in response as I have been traveling in China for the past few weeks. As a matter of fact, one major reason for this trip is to organize a one day seminar, followed by another day of closed door discussion on how to bring economists and policy researchers and policymakers closer. At least in China, what we observe is that economists pay a lot of attention to methodological rigor but their work do not necessarily answer meaningful or important policy questions. On the other hand, policy researchers do not pay enough attention to rigor, in both theories and methods. My effort here is to integrate the two groups. I am doing something similar in India. Back to your question, I would like to separate my response into three sets of inter-related issues: 1. Is current health economics research addressing relevant policy questions? Health economics is an applied field, applying economic theories and methods to answer health and health policy questions. As such, the value and merit of health economics research/study should be judged by: 1) whether the research is answering an important policy question; and 2) given (1), whether the research uses the appropriate theory and method. So I do not see these two objectives/criteria as mutually exclusive. Having said that, I agree that a number of health economics publications are strong on methods but weak in asking important and relevant questions.2. Is current health economics research result being translated into policy? In my personal view, the ultimate goal of health economics research is to generate knowledge that make people’s life better and I do not see how one can do that without bridging the gap between the “generators” and “users” of knowledge. A number of health economists, including myself engage in research that closely involve policymakers and practitioners. For myself, all of my research projects include an advisory committee consisting of policymakers of the country/state who can guide us on relevant policy questions, windows of opportunities for change and institutional and practical constraints. Their involvement also play a significant role in uptake of research findings.3. Is neo-classical economics adequate in addressing health policy questions? My view is no, so we need to go beyond neo classical economics. From iHEA’s perspective and role and if I were elected, we should do the following:1. For the biannual congress,a. select themes and priority topics that address important present and future policy issues, through broad consultation with members that go beyond the Boardb. revise paper selection criteria to emphasize more on whether the paper addresses important policy questionc. organize/convene sessions that facilitate debate and discussions between researchers and policymakers/practitioners, drawing on the research findings. That is, policymakers/practitioners are not just passive participants in the audience2. Create mentoring mechanisms to pair up a pool of 1) senior health economists who work closely or directly with policymakers, 2) policymakers themselves, with 3) interested junior researchers on “how to” link health economics research more closely with policy, in both defining research questions and translation of findings3. Create forum to discuss how new emerging fields of economics that integrates classical economics with other social science disciplines—psychology, political science, organizational behavior, governance, such as institution economics, organizational economics, behavioral economics and political economy can play a more significant role in health economics research that addresses relevant policy questions. This should be organized with the goal to facilitate continuous research collaboration among interested iHEA members. Thank you and I look forward to working with you and other members. Winnie(posted by moderator on behalf of Winnie who is having internet challenges)
by D. McIntyre
Monday, November 20, 2017

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