As an infectious disease epidemiologist who works with Ministries of Health in low-income countries and WHO regional offices, I am keenly aware that the leader of WHO will have a huge impact on my partners and my work.
People living in 35 industrialised countries can look forward to longer lives, a recent Lancet study suggests. The research showed that women in South Korea are expected to have a better than 50/50 chance of breaking the 90-year barrier by year 2030 - a remarkable feat that was not considered possible by many at the turn of the 21st century.
“It is quite possible that we will see a drug-resistant tuberculosis epidemic of unprecedented global scale.” The view of Dr David W Dowdy from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in a Lancet Respiratory Medicine comment piece (PDF) this week. Alarming words, and we need to listen.
Today we have a similar emergency on our hands, but one that is largely silent and failing to secure the necessary global attention and funding. The prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is comparable to the greatest global health challenges we have had to confront in recent history.
The evidence that e-cigarettes help people quit smoking was described in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recent report as “scant and of low certainty”. Predictably, this triggered the latest round of claims and counterclaims in an ongoing, and often acrimonious, dispute about the potential of e-cigarettes.
I recently sat with a mother and her baby in an intensive care unit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The baby was tiny, with lots of dark hair and a beautiful name. He also had microcephaly – and the doctor euphemistically said that his face was disproportionate to his head.
In rich countries, tuberculosis is sometimes thought of as a thing of the past, the disease that claimed Keats, Poe, Chopin. But globally, TB is today the number one infectious killer, causing an estimated 1.8m deaths in 2015.