All that jazz

Miles Davis: Don't play what's there, play what's not there. Credit: Wikicommons/Tom Palumbo

Montreux is known for its world jazz festival every summer and is home to the statue of Freddie Mercury.  So it is but natural that we got treated to a nice music performance at the opening session – violin by Isabella Mayer and guitar by Dagoberto Linhares. That was a neat treat for us.

And a couple of speakers could not resist reminding delegates about Montreux’s music culture. Tim Evans, chair of the symposium steering committee – and currently Dean at Bangladesh Rural Advancement Centre (BRAC) School of Public Health,  Dhaka – reminded us about  jazz musician Miles Davis’ famous quote: “Don’t play what’s there … play what’s not there”.

So what’s there? Biomedical research in all its glory. What’s not there? Health systems research (remember the poor relation?).

Evans says what’s missing in health systems research is scientific rigour, especially few robust conceptual frameworks and methods, to measure and evaluate the research.

He is also one of the rare breeds who acknowledge the confusion caused by international agencies’ jargon.”The way we describe health systems research is very vague,” he said.  Samples: applied, complexity, delivery, diffusion, evaluation, formative, implementation, operations, scale-up, T2 or translation two …

His words about vague words are music to my ears as, by now, I have humbly accepted myself as language challenged when confronted with some phrases in the international development sector.

T. V. Padma, South Asia Regional Coordinator, SciDev.Net

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