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global health

Anant Bhan: The Call to Action Summit 2015—thoughts on some key areas for discussion and action

26 Aug, 15 | by BMJ


India is hosting the Call to Action Summit on the 27-28 August in New Delhi. The summit is focused on ending preventable child and maternal deaths, and will be co-hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Government of India, the Ministry of Health Government of Ethiopia, USAID, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Tata Trusts. The summit will bring together health ministers from 24 priority countries (contributing 70% of the world’s child and maternal deaths) which signed on to a global call for action for child survival in June 2012 along with researchers, policy makers, funders, experts, and representatives from industry, civil society, and media. The meeting has an interesting and packed agenda. It would be good to see a discussion on the following areas during the summit: more…

Lara Gautier: August 2015—a paroxysm of environmental health incidents caused by industrial activity

20 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

Lara GautierThe Animas river in Colorado, the Moskva river south of Moscow, and Tianjin. What do these three geographic areas have in common? They have all been deeply affected by industrial hazards in August 2015.

5 August: In Colorado, agents from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accidentally unleashed 3m gallons of toxic mine waste into the Animas river, which feeds the Colorado River and many Southern US cities. The dam that was holding the waste burst open during investigative efforts by the EPA, who were looking at stopping toxic leakage from the Gold King Mine. The acidic, heavy metal laden waste has coloured the river yellow for days, raising legitimate concerns from Navajo communities and residents living along the river. The president of Navajo Nation, Russell Begaye, has highlighted how “the spill has impacted us religiously, emotionally, financially.” The Guardian reports that the area was heavily mined for gold and silver for decades. more…

Edward Fitzgerald: Celebrating global health on world humanitarian day

19 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

ed_fitzgeraldLifebox Foundation is celebrating surgery and anaesthesia humanitarian heroes for WHD. Follow our #HumanitarianHeroes campaign on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to find out more.

When I was 4 years old I had grommets inserted in both ears—small plastic tubes through the eardrum to help resolve an infection. Around the same time I had a mole excised from the back of my right hand. Both were under general anaesthetic, and all were straightforward procedures. I don’t remember much myself, but I’m sure my parents appreciated the years of skilled training behind each practitioner involved in my care, and the resources and systems that were in turn supporting them. more…

Aser García Rada: Providing humanitarian aid at one of the oldest refugee camps in the world

19 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

Aser García Rada_BMJDuring four weeks this June, along with other colleagues from the Spanish and the Austrian Red Cross, I was deployed as a delegate of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to respond to a massive influx of asylum seekers in the Nyarugusu refugee camp in Tanzania.

Nyarugusu, one of the oldest refugee camps in the world, was created 19 years ago to house thousands of refugees fleeing civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition to its current 65,000 Congolese refugees, over 82,000 asylum seekers escaping from civil unrest in Burundi have joined in the past three months, bringing the total camp population to over 147,000. More than half of them are children or teenagers. more…

Joe Knight: Extreme weather and food supply shortages

17 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

It’s a given that Obama will never agree with Putin on Ukraine nor Ahmadinejad on nuclear proliferation. There are however, some common enemies that are supposed to draw the warring nations of the earth into one corner and demand something like a “global” response. These are usually issues of health and the environment, where the impersonal forces of weather and disease conspire against us as a planet rather than a collection of political factions. more…

Zosia Kmietowicz: One policy to reduce sugar intake—what would you do?

6 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

zosiakThe anti-sugar crusader Robert Lustig blew through town this week to film a documentary with chef Jamie Oliver, but stopped off on the way to take part in a panel discussion on the white stuff, which he launched with a talk entitled “Processed Food: An experiment that failed.”

Lustig, who is professor of paediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, is an engaging orator, combining the charm of Bill Clinton with the dogged enthusiasm granted to Tigger by AA Milne. His views on the causes of the obesity epidemic—that the body’s feedback system for satiety is broken from over consumption of sugar, especially fructose—are becoming increasingly heard and argued over in the scientific and medical communities. What was interesting about his talk on Tuesday night was his favoured solution for tackling sugar consumption levels, which in the United Sates rose from 73lbs per person per year in 1970 to 113lbs in 2000 (if fruit juice is included). more…

Arthy Santhakumar: Accelerating health equity through equitable access to health information

6 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

arthy-santhakumarAs we await consensus on the new sustainable development goals (SDGs), we are reminded of what united the international community in the years approaching the millennium—the need to reduce inequality globally. Universal health coverage (UHC) – as put forward by the World Health Organization—was identified as “the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer, and considered to be the unifying vision for the health goal in the SDGs.”

Daniel Cooper: On the frontline at the Kerry Town treatment unit

4 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

daniel_cooper_1At a time when public and media interest is waning, the Ebola epidemic in west Africa shows no signs of ending. With Guinea and Sierra Leone still reporting new cases on a weekly basis, hopes of Liberia being declared Ebola free have also been dashed with six new cases reported since the end of June.

Despite the relatively small number of new infections in Sierra Leone when compared to this time last year, the arrival of the rainy season and cross border travel from Guinea are proving thorns in the side of Sierra Leone’s response to Ebola. more…

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.


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…

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