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global health

David McCoy: Divestment is no grand gesture

30 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

david_mccoy According to Jeremy Farrar, head of the Wellcome Trust, the Guardian’s “Keep in the Ground” campaign to promote divestment from fossil fuel companies is merely a “grand gesture” that can be made only once.

At one level, he is right. The financial impact of the Wellcome Trust selling off its shares in fossil fuel companies would be negligible. But as a social and political gesture, the impact would be huge. The Wellcome Trust a prestigious and highly respected scientific and charitable organisation. It works to improve health and serve humanity. Its voice carries weight and through divestment, it would be sending a strong signal to governments and the general public that continued investment in fossil fuel companies is simply not compatible with the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Tamsin Lillie: Strengthening human resources in Malawi, the world’s poorest country

27 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

tamsin lillieMalawi, a country in Southern Africa, was recently acknowledged by the World Bank as the poorest country in the world, with the average gross national income being just $250. Its health system is in desperate need of human resources; there are just two doctors for every 100,000 people. Most doctors work in the tertiary referral hospitals in Blantyre and Lilongwe, meaning that the vast majority of Malawi’s population, 85% of whom live in rural areas, never see a doctor. more…

The earthquake in Nepal: Surgeons’ dispatch from Barhabise

24 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

Surgeons' dispatch from BarhabiseThe massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred 77 km northwest of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, on 25 April 2015 left more than 8000 people dead and 16 000 injured. The district of Sindhupalchok, where more than 3000 people were lost, was struck particularly hard.

At the request of the Japanese government, disaster relief medical teams from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) were sent to Nepal on 28 April. The primary medical team consisted of 48 people, including eight doctors: two trauma surgeons, two orthopaedists, two emergency physicians, one paediatrician and one anaesthesiologist. We arrived in Kathmandu on 29 April via Bangkok. Less than one percent of the buildings in the city were damaged and the infrastructure was preserved, so for many inhabitants life went on as usual for the most part. People living in tents in parks were gradually returning to their homes. However, there were frequent aftershocks. more…

John Middleton: Cement—Gaza’s forgotten public health need

8 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

A delegation of public health professors and specialists from the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER) visited Gaza from 5-7 June 2015, and took part in a joint meeting with the School of Public Health of the Gaza Branch of Al Quds University.

“We have 35 international aid agencies and NGOs [non-governmental organisations] in Gaza and not one of them has brought us one bag of cement,” said Dr Bassam Abu Hamad, director of the Gaza School of Public Health of Al Quds University. In a discussion of public health needs in Gaza one word comes to signify the continuing terrible plight of the Palestinian people: “cement.” Cement characterises the nature of the public health problem for Gaza. It represents reconstruction, redevelopment, restoration, proper shelter, new healthcare facilities, desalination plants, water treatment plants and power plants, and proper reconstruction of schools—which now serve as refugee accommodation. No new houses have been built in Gaza since the end of last year’s conflict.

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Rethinking human resources for health in post-earthquake Nepal

1 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

Attracting, distributing, and retaining health workers remain a challenge in Nepal. In 2011, Nepal had 0.04 doctors and 0.23 nurses per 1000 people, against a World Health Organization benchmark of 2.3 health workers per 1000 people. A survey conducted in 2013 revealed that only about 50% of sanctioned posts for doctors and nurses were filled in district hospitals. Overall, two thirds of sanctioned posts were filled in hospitals and lower level health facilities.

Nepal’s already crippled health system was further aggravated by the 7.8 Richter scale earthquake on 25 April and a strong aftershock of 7.2 on 12 May 2015. A total of 8841 deaths including 18 health workers, 22 309 injuries including 75 health workers, and 117 000 displacements have been reported as of 26 June 2015. more…

The African Journal Partnership Project: Raising the visibility of African medical publishing and research

25 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

navjoyt_ladherFor the past 11 years, the African Journal Partnership Project (AJPP) has paired leading medical journals in the UK and the US with counterparts in Africa, aiming to foster the development of medical publishing in the African continent so that valuable African health and medical research is available to a wider international audience.

The project was started after the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and Fogarty International Center (part of the National Institutes of Health) recognised that there were problems with the availability and dissemination of medical literature in Africa. As the AJPP website explains: “Despite the recognised benefits of health and medical journals to clinical practitioners, Africa’s health and medical journal production and distribution are low and therefore do not make research from endemic areas available to colleagues on the continent or in the international scientific community.” more…

Marge Berer on the global strategy for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health

22 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

This week in New York, the zero draft of the outcome document of the post-2015 development agenda, “Transforming Our World,” will be negotiated at the United Nations (UN). The document provides the main framework for the post-2015 development agenda that will be adopted during the UN Summit in September. A post-2015 women’s coalition, coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in the US, has been contributing to the development of these frameworks in support of a comprehensive gender equality strategy which is inclusive, addresses inequalities, and is accountable to all. While the outcome document does highlight women’s rights and gender equality prominently, it is not a given that this focus will remain, since women’s rights are often used as a bargaining chip and dropped during negotiations. more…

Jocalyn Clark: The surprising links between child marriage, climate change, and health

16 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

Jocalyn_Clark1It seems obvious that child marriage—marriage before 18 years of age—would be bad for girls’ health. It risks injury and death due to early pregnancy and abuse, and usually means girls stop going to school.

But the link to climate change is less conspicuous. A new Human Rights Watch report, focused on Bangladesh, which has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world (a full 30% of females in this country are married before 15), sheds light on the role of climate change. Having never thought of adolescent health this way, I find the tripartite fascinating. more…

Salil Patel: Why you should know about global surgery

12 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

salil_patel2More people die from a lack of surgical care than from HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Half of the world’s population face catastrophic financial expenditure due to surgery. With over 90% of people in most low and middle income countries lacking affordable, surgical care, medical students around the world are helping work towards resolving this injustice.

The last time you donated to a medical charity, it probably had no relation to surgery whatsoever. Why should it? To many, surgery is still a luxurious medical intervention reserved for high income countries. Paul Farmer, of Harvard’s School of Public Health, famously described surgery as the “neglected stepchild of global health.” more…

The sustainable development goals: Priorities for the global health community?

9 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

Joseph Millum_2

Joseph Millum

Daniel Sharp

Daniel Sharp

As the 2015 deadline for the attainment of the millennium development goals (MDGs) approaches, a UN working group has released a draft proposal for their successors. Among the health related targets of the proposed new sustainable development goals (SDGs) are:

• Reduce maternal mortality to less than 70 per 100 000 live births by 2030
• End preventable deaths of newborns and under 5s by 2030
• End the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases by 2030
• Reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by one third by 2030
• Halve deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020
• Achieve universal health coverage for all more…

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