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global health

Sarah Woznick: A nurse’s account of working in Gaza

21 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

msf_gazaSarah Woznick is a specialist intensive care nurse working with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF/ Doctors Without Borders). She arrived in Gaza six months ago from Denver, Colorado. She was due to leave the mission the day after operation “Protective Edge” began, but decided to stay on to help provide medical care.

Image: Sarah in the intensive care unit of Nasser hospital, Gaza. Credit: MSF. 

I was scheduled to leave Gaza the day after the military operation “Protective Edge” started. That first day there were lots of air strikes in our area. It’s a strange feeling when you realise that one is falling not far from you. Now I am a little more accustomed, but it still makes me jump from time to time. All of us think about our Palestinian colleagues. The MSF compound is a safe place, but their homes might not be, and we worry about them and their families. more…

Ike Anya: What can mobile phone polling tell us about population health?

18 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

Ike_Anya-2014One Friday afternoon in May, I sat in my local library in London, surrounded by young men and women, who looked mostly like students studying for examinations. As they buried their heads in their books or scanned their laptop screens, I furiously tapped at the screen on my phone, causing a few heads to look up at me.

My fervid activity was in the cause of answering questions from people in Nigeria about cardiovascular disease and the risk factors associated with it. My tapping was part of #PollingFriday, a weekly Twitter chat that is organised by Nigeria’s first polling organisation, NOIPolls, to publicise the results of their latest polls. Through Twitter, members of the public are encouraged to ask questions about the polling topic, and an expert on said topic is invited to answer their questions. more…

Gitau Mburu: Why communities should care about WHO’s antiretroviral guidelines

16 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

gitau_mburu2014A year ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued revised and consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection. These guidelines included a key recommendation to initiate HIV treatment earlier (at 500 CD4 cells/mm³ or less) in order to ensure that people with HIV live longer, healthier lives, and to substantially reduce the risk of HIV transmission. If implemented globally, earlier HIV treatment could avert an additional 3m deaths, and prevent 3.5m new HIV infections by 2025.

Getting people on to treatment earlier is now a moral and scientific necessity. However, we know that many communities around the world are already facing tremendous challenges in accessing HIV services. Therefore, reaching a greater number of people who will need treatment even earlier is going to be complex, and will require wholehearted buy in and engagement from affected populations. more…

Jane Parry: What radiation risk? I’m going to Japan for the clean air

14 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

jane_parry3Chatting to fellow parents about summer holiday plans at a recent school event, I was asked by a mother whether I was worried about radiation levels in Japan. Both her family and mine are travelling to Japan this summer, although neither party are travelling anywhere near Fukushima. I told her that I was actually looking forward to the clean air and getting away from Hong Kong—giving us all a rest from Hong Kong’s hideous air pollution.

She, on the other hand, told me she and her friends were worried about the potential health impact of spending a week in Japan. This is a commonly held view here, and I was reminded of something I learned about risk during my MPH course: it’s not the risk, it’s the risk perception that matters. more…

Jane Feinmann: Advancing forensic evidence one smartphone at a time

10 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

jane_feinmannLast month we saw the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones take place in London. Co-chaired by foreign secretary William Hague and actress Angelina Jolie, the summit achieved a momentous success in establishing an International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

What’s still being written, however, is the small print of how that protocol will be put into effect in the remote areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and a handful of other African countries. In such places, decades of conflict have created a freedom to rape with impunity, while the forensic medicine that would enable cases of rape to be brought to court remains barely developed. more…

Sarah Kotis: Putting the World Cup into context

9 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

SarahKotisThe World Cup brings together millions of people who sometimes have nothing in common beyond a love of football. That’s not just an opportunity to sing with strangers at the pub—it’s a bona fide teachable moment.

There are major inequalities between the countries who have been competing in Brazil for the last few weeks. Teams meet on the pitch as equals, but fans back home have access to vastly different levels of healthcare and lifetime risks of mortality or disease. Comparing the mortality rate of pregnant women, or the lifespan of young children across two countries that don’t often share the same airtime makes this quite clear. more…

Robin Kincaid: Surgical skills in Palestine—handing over the baton

7 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

robin_kincaidIn April this year, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) team travelled to East Jerusalem to oversee the teaching of the Basic Surgical Skills (BSS) course, which has been endorsed by the Edinburgh college for Palestinian surgeons in training. The idea for this project grew its roots back in early 2010, and the scheme is now in its fourth year.

The team consisted of David Sedgwick (course convenor), Ruth McKee, John Anderson, Ian Wallace, Sarah Sholl, Magdalena Kincaid, and myself (Robin Kincaid). Once more, we had the invaluable help of the members of Juzoor Foundation, lead by Dina Nasser, and logistical support on the ground from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), lead by Umaiyeh Khammash. more…

Leigh Daynes: Healthcare access in the West—fact, not fiction

3 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

leigh_daynesWhat do America, France, the UK, and most of the richest countries in the world all have that they should not have? The answer I’m looking for is not nuclear weapons, national debts, or billionaire bankers. It’s a large (and growing) number of people who are unable to access essential healthcare—many of them extremely vulnerable.

At the Royal Society of Medicine tonight I’m discussing the film Remote Area Medical, which is about the eponymous charity set up by Stan Brock to provide healthcare to some of the most in need countries in the world—such as America.

“We cut back on places like Guatemala, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Africa, simply because we’re overwhelmed with the need here,” says Stan. “Welcome to America.” more…

Julian Sheather: Torture, medicine, and the need for an independent eye

26 Jun, 14 | by BMJ

julian_sheatherIn August 2012, Claudia was woken at 3:00 in the morning when soldiers burst into her home in Veracruz City, Mexico. They tied her hands and blindfolded her. They took her to the local naval base where they tortured her: they subjected her to repeated electric shocks, then they wrapped her in plastic, and beat her—the plastic was to disguise the marks. She was accused of being a gang member, something she vehemently denied.

The next day she was forced to sign a statement unread. In court a week later, she retracted it and testified to the abuse she had suffered. All but one of the charges against her were dropped, and the judge ordered the federal attorney general’s office to investigate. This was nearly two years ago. Nobody has yet been held to account, and in all that time she has received no specialist medical and psychological assessment. more…

Tiago Villanueva: The global burden of physical inactivity on health

12 Jun, 14 | by BMJ

tiago_villanuevaThe World Cup is now here, but for many of us that just means we will be watching the matches from our couch at home, or, if you’re one of the lucky ones, from the stands in Brazil’s stadiums. Ironically, such a high profile sporting event will foster sedentary behaviour in a lot of us, by making us sit in front of the television for countless hours, especially if our team goes far in the competition.

I recently had the chance to listen to Dr Pedro Hallal—a Brazilian academic and researcher from the Federal University of Pelotas—give a talk in Central London, which was organised by C3 Collaborating for Health. Hallal discussed his research into the effects of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases; of which a great deal has been published in several Lancet series, most recently this one on physical activity in 2012. more…

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