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.
India faces a ticking-time bomb when it comes to public health. In 2015 it reported 27% of all neonatal deaths and 21% of all child deaths in the world, and the country accounted for 20% of the global burden of disease in 2013. More than 70% of ailing persons sought (PDF) care in the private health sector in 2014 and it is well known that a large proportion of this private sector is informal and unrecognised.
In April 2013, the National Health Service (NHS) in England was subject to the biggest reorganisation since its creation in 1948. NHS leaders famously described the changes as “so big you could see them from space”. In a very short space of time, new organisations were created, old ones abolished and responsibilities for public health were transferred from the NHS to local authorities. In the midst of these changes, we investigated what happened to the national immunisation programme.
Global leaders at the United Nations General Assembly have signed a declaration that their 193 countries will take steps to rid the world of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). It is only the fourth time in the history of the UN that a health topic has been on the General Assembly agenda. AMR has been increasing since we began the mass production and use of these medicines in the 1930s-40s. The scale of the problem therefore is unsurprising, however the lack of detailed knowledge about how to successfully address it is.
It’s the time of year when hundreds of thousands of teenagers are beginning an exciting new chapter in their lives. Freshers’ week will see friendships fostered for life, but for some unfortunate students it will also mean experiencing something not quite as welcome. Close contact between large groups of young adults is the perfect breeding ground for infectious disease. Perhaps surprisingly, measles is one of them.
Fast-acting, potentially fatal, and ruthlessly unpredictable – every health professional fears sepsis in their patients. Today, 13 September, is World Sepsis Day—a wake-up call to governments and society that the number of deaths from sepsis remains unacceptably high, and continues to increase at an alarming rate.
Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) affects more than 19 million children under five each year worldwide and causes over 1 million deaths according to some estimates. The vast majority of these are from low-income countries, common catalysts being poverty, conflict and disease.
“Women are supposed to be under men’s superiority in everything … you cannot respond when he says anything. You only have to do what he says”. That’s what one young woman told staff at Raising Voices, a Ugandan violence prevention charity, that she used to think before she became a community activist. Sadly, throughout many parts of the world, such views are still common.
From climate change and GM foods, to saturated fats and vitamin supplements, academic debates played out through the media are nothing new. The UK is fortunate to have so many excellent health and science reporters, and we know their stories can communicate important health messages and have the power to influence the public. However, what is less clear is how much of an impact high profile health stories can have on public health.