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Non-communicable diseases

Mihail Călin: Romania’s alcohol policy leaves public to fend for themselves

21 Jan, 15 | by BMJ

Mihail_CălinA woman holding a toddler in her arms falls in a ditch while trying to recover her beer bottle from the ground. She tries to get back up, only to fall on top of her child. Moments later, she leaves her two children (one of whom is now holding his mother’s bottle) on the side of the road to argue incoherently with those filming her. The next day, she would explain her behaviour by saying she had been drinking some liquor and wine on an empty stomach after work.

This is just a more notable episode—it even made it into the British media—in the endless story of alcohol related harm in Romania. With an average consumption level of 14.4 litres of pure alcohol per year for each adult—21 litres if you count out the abstainers—Romania is the fifth largest drinker in the world and the second largest in the EU, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization. more…

Bheemaray Manganavar: Re-imagining the response to non-communicable diseases in India

30 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

bheemarayIt was just another day at the primary health centre (PHC) that I work closely with in the south Indian state of Karnataka. I was in the pharmacy of the PHC, discussing the availability of medicines for diabetes and hypertension with the pharmacist.

Meanwhile, an elderly woman arrived at the dispensary window along with a small diary. She had come for her monthly refill of anti-diabetic medicines. She passed her book through the window to get her monthly supply of medicines. The pharmacist returned her diary. “These medicines have not been available for a month, buy them at the private pharmacy outside,” he said. more…

Chris Baker: Bollywood stars should not endorse food of low nutritional quality—but a ban is not the solution

19 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

chris_bakerIn India, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children aged 5-19 stands at 22%. Tackling this substantial and growing epidemic requires a population level shift away from poor diets and sedentary activity. Such a shift will be more effective if individual lifestyle change is accompanied by upstream modifications that create healthy environments.

Sadly, aspirational advertising is omnipresent in India, and succeeds in creating an appetite for junk food. Household names from Bollywood and the cricket field are frequently employed to attach a sheen of glamour and success to cheap foodstuffs high in fat, sugar, or salt, and low in minerals and vitamins. more…

Helen Zorbas: 2014 World Cancer Congress

10 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

Helen ZorbasLast week in Melbourne, I had the privilege of joining influential leaders from the international cancer community as over 2800 delegates from 112 different countries came together for the World Cancer Congress, held for the first time in Australia.

The congress highlighted the substantial impact cancer has on nations across the world, and confirmed Australia’s position as a world leader in cancer control.

Worldwide, 8.2 million deaths were attributed to cancer in 2012, exceeding the number of deaths of any other specific disease grouping. By 2025, it is estimated that this number will increase to 11.4 million. more…

Francesco Barbabella and Maria Gabriella Melchiorre: Good practice and e-health technology in multimorbidity programmes

9 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

PrintThe ICARE4EU project wants to improve the care of people who are suffering from multiple chronic conditions. It will describe, analyse, and identify innovative integrated care models for people with multimorbidity in 31 European countries, and aims to contribute to the more effective implementation of such models. During the project (which runs from 2013 to mid 2016), members of the ICARE4EU consortium will keep readers of The BMJ informed about project developments. Previous project blogs can be found here. more…

Sally Norton: Open your eyes to obesity

4 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

sally_nortonWe know that we are in the middle of an obesity epidemic—and we know it is really difficult to treat. But it’s nigh on impossible to treat if we don’t identify it properly in the first place.

Recent research shows that many of us don’t really know, or admit to knowing, how obese we really are. Think that’s worrying? It turns out that doctors and other healthcare professionals don’t spot the problem either. more…

Anand Bhopal: Alcohol in society—the search for nuance in a fractious debate

5 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

anand_bhopalAlcohol is a historical part of British culture, and pubs remain central to communities across the country. Yet the same liquor is also responsible for filling A&E departments; absorbing police time; and adversely affecting millions through dependency, addiction, social problems, and disease. Too much of the current discourse on alcohol policy overlooks this spectrum and continues to draw on the simplistic narrative of “moderation” versus “excess,” which poorly delineates the variety of drinkers and their motives for doing so. This is a complex problem; it is not simply a question of how much are we drinking, but where, why, and when? more…

Sally Norton: Weight loss—help us to help ourselves

23 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

sally_nortonIf I hear one more time that keeping your weight down is all about personal responsibility—”just eat less and exercise more”—I will take a double chocolate, banana, and salted caramel, extra large, two for the price of one muffin and ram it into the mouth from whence this smug platitude came.

Of course weight control is about personal responsibility, but with two thirds of the English population classed as overweight, most of us are clearly unable to do the necessary on our own. So, do we just carry on, failing to manage our weight ourselves, or do we ask for help? more…

Wilm Quentin: NCDs and the private sector—part of the problem or part of the solution?

21 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

Wilm_QuentinOne of the last sessions of the European Health Forum Gastein aimed to find answers to the question of how to engage the private sector in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Gauden Galea, director of the Division of NCDs and Life-Course at the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe, and organiser and moderator of the session, asked: “What are the first steps that we can take to activate the private sector in collaboration for NCD prevention and control?” more…

Ahmed Rashid: Junk food history taking

16 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

ahmed_rashid“Listen to the patient and they will tell you the diagnosis.”

Widely attributed to Sir William Osler, this quote is often shared with new medical students, and I often find myself repeating it to the undergraduate clinical students I currently supervise. Regardless of the specialty area or examination skills we cover, clinical history taking remains a recurring topic in our tutorials. more…

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