Last week saw an important milestone for the international health community - the Global Conference on Primary Health Care, held in Astana, Kazakhstan. Sponsored by WHO and UNICEF, this meeting marked the 40-year anniversary of an earlier conference, whose result was the famous Alma Ata Declaration of 1978. Under the banner ‘Health For All’, this was the world’s first commitment to make primary health care universally available.
Washing our hands is such a simple act engrained in daily routines around the world. But it is easy to forget that it’s more than just a habit – handwashing saves lives by reducing the spread of infection and disease. Using water and soap after going to the toilet and before eating is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions globally, leading to large reductions in diarrhoea and pneumonia among other transmissible diseases.
On World Mental Health Day, the new report of the Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development offers a timely and fresh perspective on global mental health in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. While the adoption of mental health and substance use targets and indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reflects significant progress, the Commission underscores the need to transition from commitment to action.
At the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil the world’s media gathered en masse in Rio de Janeiro. But it wasn’t just potential medal winners making headlines. The Zika virus epidemic had emerged in Latin America, transmitted by the mosquito Aedes aegypti which is very common in the region’s urban areas and causing a rash and fever in those affected. The mosquito helped the epidemic take off, spreading from city to city, crossing borders, and reaching islands further afield.
Being shorter than expected may sound fairly innocuous, but it’s a marker of underlying conditions that can bring severe consequences: a significantly increased risk of disease and death, as well as long-term effects including reduced learning and earning capacity.
Once referred to as the ‘open defecation capital of the world’, in four years India has gone from less than half of all families having toilets to a situation where almost every household has a toilet. Almost 100 million toilets have been built since 2014.
In 2005, gambling in Britain underwent a radical overhaul. No longer was gambling to be treated as an embarrassing secret, something that many did but didn’t admit, it was to be brought into the light by New Labour’s Gambling Act.
Two years ago, I was in an intensive care unit in Brazil, where I met a mother and her newborn baby. The baby had Zika virus-related microcephaly, in other words, an abnormally small head. The mother was young and frightened. The baby was tiny, with a shrunken-looking head and a disproportionally large face. The father was anxious, with blood-shot eyes, and wondering aloud why this had happened and what the future would hold for them.
This year we sadly lost many esteemed colleagues and friends.
Clostridium difficile often referred to as C. difficile is a leading cause of healthcare-acquired infections, with more 38,000 reported cases in 2017 and over 3000 deaths. This equates to one person dying from the infection every two hours in our hospitals. It is a bacterial infection which resides in the intestines of humans. The bacteria can be found harmlessly living in one in every 30 adults, but these bacteria are usually balanced out by hundreds of other healthy bacteria in our stomachs. These healthy bacteria prevent C.