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global health

Paul Hunter: Zika virus would be able to spread in Europe

23 May, 16 | by BMJ

paul_hunterZika virus is not new. Last year, when I was asked if I knew of an expert on the disease in the UK, I searched for papers written by an author giving a UK address. I found 11 papers, six of which were written before I had started primary school in 1961. Yet in the past six months the virus has risen to the top of the infectious disease news headlines with very good reason.

It is now widely accepted that the infection is responsible for the epidemic of microcephaly (a devastating disability) seen in South America in babies of mothers infected during pregnancy. Furthermore, other serious neurological sequelae have been described in both children and adults, including Guillain-Barré syndrome, acute myelitis, and meningo-encephalitis. more…

Rebecca Coombes: Beware the medicalisation of female genital cutting

23 May, 16 | by BMJ

rebecca_coombesI met two remarkable women this week. Actually, I met many such females at the vast Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen—obstetricians, lawyers, midwives, and former presidents (including a possible future one when Hillary Clinton made a live appearance on the big screen).

In a cast of thousands, activists Filzah Sumartono, from Singapore, and Mariya Taher, from India, made an impact with their plain speaking about female genital cutting (FGC). Sumartono confronted the growing problem of medicalisation of FGC. Indonesia and Malaysia have called for a standardisation of the procedure, essentially legitimising the practice. more…

Georg Röggla: Health and migration

17 May, 16 | by BMJ

georg_rogglaI attended a remarkable reception with a focus on health and migration at the UK embassy in Vienna last week.

The ambassador Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque shared her personal experiences of when the wave of refugees reached the eastern Austrian border in 2015. She had seen completely exhausted and traumatised children and a pregnant woman whose waters had broken hours ago. more…

Post-it note triage: A little documentation, a big difference

11 May, 16 | by BMJ

sanna_khawajaIn January this year I spent a fortnight volunteering at the Moria Refugee Camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. At the time Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was the primary care provider in the camp and was supported by other charities such as Médicines Du Monde*.

The small, UK based Health Point Project I was working under aimed to support the work of these remarkable organisations by providing simple first aid, sharing information with refugees about accessing healthcare in the camp, and referring any individuals identified during “outreach” walks who required escalated care—either to MSF or straight to the local hospital. more…

Amanda Glassman and Rachel Silverman: Evaluating what works in global health

5 May, 16 | by BMJ

Around the world, people are benefitting from a global health revolution. More infants are surviving their first months of life; more children are growing and thriving; and more adults around are living longer and healthier lives. This amazing worldwide transformation is cause for huge celebration, but it also begs several questions. What, specifically, are we doing right? What are the policies and programs driving the global health revolution from the ground up? Or put more simply: what works in global health, and how do we know? more…

Tony Waterston: Infant formula once again at the RCPCH

4 May, 16 | by BMJ

tony_waterston_cutThere was nervous expectancy in the huge hall at the Liverpool arena as the gathered paediatricians awaited the count on the motion to ban infant formula funding from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH). The president and council had expressed their opposition to the motion, and wrote a piece that was circulated to members along with the briefing paper from those who proposed the motion; members had given their views for and against; and a paper vote was taken.

The motion was over a year in gestation. more…

Chris​ Simms: Deracination—Canada’s aboriginal suicides

29 Apr, 16 | by BMJ

Chris_simsFour aboriginal boys, two aged 8 and two aged 9, bolted midday from their school, half-clad, mid-winter, to make the 12 mile trek to their families in Nautley Reserve. When they were found the next day in the slush-ice on Lake Fraser less than a mile from home—arms wrapped around one another in a frozen embrace—few could have guessed the circumstances.

When, 80 years later, the community of Attawapiskat (population 2000) declared a state of emergency on 9 April 2016, reporting 11 attempted suicides in one day (and 100 attempts over the winter), Canadians may have been shocked, yet few would have been surprised. Several pieces of evidence including audio and video clips explain why.

Both events trace back to the federal government’s paradoxical policies of marginalization and assimilation. more…

Jane Parry: Organ donation is an emotive topic, and rightly so

28 Apr, 16 | by BMJ

jane_parry3Recently, there was a very moving piece in The Guardian about a doctor’s experience of a family donating their dead child’s organs for transplant. It got me thinking about organ transplantation here in Asia, specifically in Singapore, and why donation rates there are so low.

Singapore has an opt-out organ donation policy: a 2009 amendment to the Human Organ Transplant Act (HOTA) allows for “the kidneys, liver, heart, and corneas to be recovered in the event of death from any cause for the purpose of transplantation, applicable to all Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents 21 years old and above, who don’t have mental disorders, and who have not opted out.” Opting out of HOTA means that you are lower priority on the waiting list for an organ transplant. more…

Fionnuala Finnerty: Lessons must be learned from the Calais “jungle” camp

6 Apr, 16 | by BMJ

fionnula_finnertyProtection against sexual and gender based violence is imperative in the current refugee crisis

Last autumn, I began to volunteer in the Calais “jungle” camp with the Hummingbird medical project in a weekend first aid clinic. Travelling by Eurotunnel, it took less than three hours from my comfortable home in Brighton to arrive at a squalid camp described in a University of Birmingham environmental report as a humanitarian emergency. The camp had minimal non-governmental (NGO) input with Médecins Sans Frontières being the only NGO present running an overstretched primary care clinic. Calais has been described as the largest slum in Europe and probably the worst. more…

Canada’s First Nations: The social and political determinants of health

1 Apr, 16 | by BMJ

Chris_simsTo what extent are the social determinants of health (SDH) political determinants, and which of these are the most amenable to policy reversals that will increase or decrease inequalities? Reviewing the actions of the conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper (2006-15), together with early initiatives taken by the just elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, may help answer these questions.

The Harper government: The rise in inequalities among Canada’s 1.4 million aboriginals during the conservative decade may surprise some SDH experts. At the last World Medical Association meeting its president and leading SDH expert, Sir Michael Marmot, more…

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