A study being billed as the world’s largest, and which hopes to address the failings of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and reduce the huge dependency on it, offers lessons for SA’s ambitious universal health coverage plans, writes MedicalBrief.

By the end of this year, the research study, called Our Future Health, will be Britain’s largest study of its kind, and by the end of next year, the world’s, with the aim being to recruit 5m people, and to save them – and the NHS.

Volunteer number one rolled up his sleeve on 12 July last year. By March this year, volunteer 100 000 gave blood. The roll is now growing so fast – by thousands every day – that putting a precise number in print is pointless: by the time you read this it will be out of date.

Across Britain, reports The Economist, the study is unfurling. The plan is to recruit 5m people and get them weighed, measured, quizzed, genotyped, phenotyped … Then to put the data to work to see who gets sick, with what, and when, and why, and if intervening early can help.

The aim is simple. To save them – and the NHS. Because as Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University and the study’s chair, says, the NHS is “not sustainable in its current form”.

The NHS has two main problems. The first is that it works badly. The second is that it works well…..more