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.
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.