Author Archives: PLoS Translational Global Health

Our Oceans, Our Future: Fisheries and Climate Change.

“Our oceans, our future” was the slogan of the UN Oceans Conference held in New York in June 2017, which focused on how to sustainably manage our ocean’s marine resources. Recently published research, however, suggests something a bit different. This global analysis shows that least developed countries and Small Island developing states are among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts on fisheries. Having contributed relatively little to the problem of climate change, they may be left wondering: ‘their oceans, our future?’   This week, in newly published research, authors construct a vulnerability index for 147 countries building on the methodology of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which assesses vulnerability as a function of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity (see Figure 1). The resulting index is based on the most recent socio-economic data, as well as future projections of climate change impacts using a variety of different scenarios and timeframes.

Posted in Climate Change, Equity & Access, Hub Selects, Research | Tagged | Comments closed

The secret, hidden pricetag on your cola bottle

0000-0002-1767-4576The line at the convenience store is three people deep. Standing in front of me is a 40-something man with a bottle of cola and a newspaper. In front of him, a mother paying her utility bill accompanied by her young daughter. The mum and child leave, and the man moves forward to pay. “Two dollars?” I overhear him exclaim with surprise… “I remember when a bottle of cola was one!” As he pays and heads for the door, I too grab a newspaper and cannot help but notice the story on the front cover: the mounting crisis of costs from an obesity epidemic gripping not just the nation, but the planet – the economic and health systems already struggling to keep pace.

Posted in Aid, Diabetes, Hub Selects, Poverty, Social | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

World No Tobacco Day 2017

Dear Tobacco Industry Executives, We share a dream that this World No Tobacco Day will be a day like no other. Usually the focus of World No Tobacco Day is based on the fact that 7 million of your most loyal customers will die this year from tobacco use. There will be calls to raise the price of tobacco as this is the singular most important measure in reducing tobacco consumption. There will be calls to use some of these taxes to support smokers to quit by investing the funds in proven measures such as public education campaigns and quit lines. There will be calls to follow the lead of Australia, France, and the UK in implementing plain packaging to ban advertising of tobacco and to mandate smokefree environments.

Posted in Aging, Cancer, Environment, Hub Selects, Poverty, Research, SDGs | Comments closed

“Appendix III” is critical for accelerating progress on NCDs

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) accounted for 70% of global deaths in 2015, with three quarters of these deaths occurring in low and middle income countries (LMICs). NCDs are a silent epidemic of premature and preventable death and disability from diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease, and mental and neurological disorders. Their main risk factors – unhealthy diets, alcohol and tobacco use, physical inactivity, and environmental determinants such as air pollution, are transmitted via unhealthy environments. They are directly and indirectly caused by commercial determinants, misaligned public policies in agriculture, commerce, education, energy, health, finance, trade, and social security, and are exacerbated by social determinants including poverty and inequity. In 2011, The United Nations General Assembly declared NCDs a global health and development challenge at a UN High-Level Summit.

Posted in Aging, Cancer, Diabetes, Environment, Equity & Access, Hub Selects, Noncommunicable Disease, Politics, Poverty, Publications, Social | Tagged | Comments closed

New WHO policy briefs: common drivers and solutions to undernutrition and obesity

0000-0002-1767-4576This week the World Health Organization in Geneva released two new policy briefs focused on the double burden of malnutrition and double-duty actions for nutrition. The global double burden of malnutrition (WHO, 2017) Defined as the coexistence of undernutrition along with overweight, obesity or diet-related NCDs, within individuals, households and populations, and across the life-course, the double burden of malnutrition now grips many nations worldwide and presents a challenging new nutrition paradigm for policy makers and public health. This first brief outlines the three scales (individual, household and population) and many determinants of the double burden. The purpose of this policy brief is to increase attention to, and action for cost-effective interventions and policies to address the double burden of malnutrition within the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition – and, through this, to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of ending all forms of malnutrition (SDG2) and ensuring healthy lives and well-being for all at all ages (SDG3). The three scales at which the double burden of malnutrition can manifest (WHO, 2017) The second complementary, standalone brief introduces and explains the concept of double-duty actions

Posted in Cancer, Cardiovascular, Diabetes, Hub Selects, Publications | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

All roads lead to Geneva

This week, health ministers from across the world are making the yearly pilgrimage to Geneva for the 70th World Health Assembly. For spectators, the importance of this week extends far beyond the official proceedings shared via livestream. It is about the closed door breakfasts, the high-level side meetings, the sponsored receptions and events, and the general atmosphere in expensive, elite Geneva as it transforms into the centre of the global health world. The stakes are even higher this year with the election of a new Director-General of the WHO at a time when new leadership and vision are sorely needed. Much has been written by Laurie Garrett, Larry Gostin, and others on reforming the WHO.

Posted in Aid, Corruption, Ebola, Financing, Funding, HIV/AIDS, Hub Selects, Humanosphere, Infectious Disease, Malaria, MDGs, Politics, Research, Universal Health Coverage | Comments closed

Contemporary issues in global health

The global health community recently descended on Washington DC for the discipline’s annual conference held under the capable auspices of the ‘Consortium of Universities for Global Health’. Many of the session topics, satellite sessions, and coffee-break conversations offered microcosmic illustrations of global health issues and evolving trends that warrant further discussion outside of this microcosm. We don’t understand what Planetary Health is, but we know it’s important The theme of the conference – healthy people, health ecosystems – was an uncontroversial choice that plays to the dominant development zeitgeist. Climate change is undeniably preeminent as a global health threat, however it is clear than no one feels particularly confident with the subject – planetary health is still too big and too complex for most. Part of the problem is that the exact definition of planetary health is still up for grabs

Posted in Aging, Aid, Climate Change, Equity & Access, Funding, Hub Selects, Human Rights, Noncommunicable Disease, Online, Publications, Research, Social, Technology, WASH | Tagged | Comments closed

“Real” fast food?

“We’re doing this for modern moms…discerning dads…and all those parents who have a fresh perspective on parenting…. We haven’t forgotten our loyal fans who like to keep things fresh.” It might come as a shock to some to learn that this text is from a McDonald’s ad. For others who have watched the food industry slowly pivot towards the alternative food movement, and acquisition by acquisition, appropriate and capitalize on the most marketable aspects of the movement—this campaign is almost expected. For decades, food researchers such as Belasco, Nestle, and Simon have documented how the largest food and beverage companies have been working to appeal to foodies, nutritionists, and other critics of the industrial food system. Here, I will briefly consider three recent corporate strategies to illustrate some of the challenges and opportunities the food industry faces and the inherent contradictions in these strategies

Posted in Hub Selects, Politics, Research, Social, Technology, WASH | Comments closed

Seven connections we need to make to fix the food system

I spent this past Saturday at the 2017 Oxford Food Forum, a conference organised by Oxford University students. It was laudable to see a dedicated crowd come to spend their Saturday talking about something apparently abstract – building connections in the food system (the conference theme was “Breaking Down the Silos”). But the relatively abstract nature of theme was precisely why I was so keen to go. Because in practice, connections are not abstract at all.

Posted in Cancer, Environment, Hub Selects, Research, Social | Comments closed

Water security: the key ingredient for soda tax success

Recommended by the World Health Organization, sugar-sweetened beverage taxes have become an attractive policy to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). However, in contexts where water safety and security are equally important issues, there is an imperative need to simultaneously promote water sanitation and access policies to ensure the benefits of a soda tax don’t dry up.  Soda consumption is often high in countries where access to free drinking water is limited. For over half the global population, water insecurity is a daily reality, and so too is the double burden of malnutrition.

Posted in Aging, Competition, Diabetes, Hub Selects, Noncommunicable Disease, Publications, Research, SDGs, WASH | Tagged , | Comments closed

Concrete health opportunities

Cities will determine the health and wellbeing of populations in the 21st century: Threat or opportunity? Building a case for action The environment in which we move, work, learn, play, and eat determines our potential to achieve good health. Concrete jungles, food desserts, roads which resemble car parking lots, overpowering air and noise pollution, obesogenic environments, and isolation among density are not uncommon features of urban living – all of which predispose to physical and psychological ailments. Urbanisation, most notably mega, rapid or unplanned, currently poses a huge threat to human and environmental health, but is equally an unprecedented opportunity for action. In 2016, over 50 percent of the global population were urban dwellers

Posted in Aid, Climate Change, Environment, Equity & Access, Hub Selects, Mental Health, Publications, Research, Social, Technology | Tagged | Comments closed

The Future of mHealth

Earlier this month the Finnish mobile phone maker, Nokia, announced that they will be re-releasing an updated version of their legendary 3310 GSM phone. Since it was first released in the early 2000s, the Nokia 3310 has gained a cult following for its incredible durability, long battery life and compact design featuring an internal antenna. Many Europeans and Americans fondly remember the 3310 as their first mobile phone, a device that made meeting up with friends in a crowd easier and a device that provided endless hours of entertainment with the timeless game Snake. In the developing world, however, the Nokia 3310 was a lifeline. Owning a reliable, durable communications device that could go days without charging meant that millions of people could connect with relatives and friends in ways they never could before

Posted in Aging, Environment, Hub Selects, ICT4D, mHealth, Technology | Comments closed

Why We March for Food and Health in 2017

In Canada, our southern neighbour casts a long shadow, and 2017 commenced with a deep distemper in my community of practice on food and health. I had conversations with friends that ranged from glum (celebrating food seemed a bit pointless now, didn’t it?), to restrained (working for policy change in the health field has always been a long game), to bellicose (in a world where reality had been upended, direct confrontation was needed, now). The malaise suffused everything. I buried myself in the reassuring solitude of writing, and learned that others were trying to do the same. I tried to change my media habits: alternately glued to or avoiding social media; taking out new subscriptions to newspapers and magazines.

Posted in Aid, Environment, Equity & Access, Gender, Hub Selects, Human Rights, Online, Research, Social, WASH | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Global health in 2017

I don’t know about you, but I am still in that weird part of the dawning year where writing the date seems like I am playing main stage in a Hollywood ‘sci-fi’ movie. Where the four numbers of 2 – 0 – 1 – 7 seem more of something I would associate with flying cars and robot servants, than the ‘here and now’. But strange as it may seem we are well into the New Year and as the pace of the world reflects the pace of passing time, I can’t help but wonder if we actually do live in the future. So to speak. We now call for a cab via west coast America using a democratized application on a globally connected device no bigger than our palm, manufactured on another continent and possessing the technological potency we could never have even dreamt of just a decade ago – linked to another billion similar devices through millions of miles of fibre-optics spanning the entire planet

Posted in Aging, Aid, Aid & Development, Climate Change, Diabetes, Environment, Hub Selects, Infectious Disease, Mental Health, mHealth, Noncommunicable Disease, Research, Technology | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed