Author Archives: PLoS Translational Global Health

NCDs: refocusing our efforts just in time

0000-0002-1767-4576On December 9-11, the second NCDA forum will take place in Sharjah, UAE. The theme of the conference is aptly Stepping up the pace on NCDs: making 2018 count, providing a unique opportunity to unite and mobilise NCD civil society ahead of the 2018 UN High-level Meeting on NCDs. For the wider health and non-health audience, this blog post provides an insight into the current state of NCDs, and the exciting road ahead. Taking stock  The global burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) represents a crisis largely of our collective creation and poses a multitude of risks to everyone, everywhere. NCDs are the leading cause of mortality worldwide, with three in four of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

Posted in Conferences, Environment, Hub Selects, Noncommunicable Disease, Poverty, Research, SDGs | Comments closed

Beyond the stereotype: the many faces of malnutrition in contemporary Tanzania

A starving, emaciated child: this is the image that usually comes to most people’s mind when they think of malnutrition in Africa. However, what is less portrayed is a far more common form of undernutrition with life-long consequences that is not immediately visible to the human eye, a so-called hidden hunger known as chronic malnutrition or stunting. Chronically malnourished children are usually not thinner than other children, and they do not look undernourished. But they are shorter than their peers and therefore referred to as stunted. Although genetic differences and environmental factors also cause differences in population height potential, in some communities, stunting is so common that it is hard to know what is ‘normal’ and what is not.

Posted in Diabetes, Environment, Funding, Hub Selects, Poverty, Social | Comments closed

Individual choice versus public policy: who is to blame for the obesity crisis?

It is a question that Dr Sandro Demaio is asked regularly — you have to die of something so why bother being healthy? The answer, put simply, is because we should all strive for a better quality of life, not just a long one. Yet with obesity on the rise, Dr Sandro, who is medical officer for noncommunicable diseases and nutrition for the World Health Organization, argues it is not just individuals who have to take charge of their health, but also governments who need to make better political decisions about public health policy. Listen now Download the interview Originally broadcast on Australia’s ABC Radio National.

Posted in Hub Selects, Noncommunicable Disease | Comments closed

We all have to die of something, so why bother being healthy?

0000-0002-1767-4576It’s 6:45 on a cold and rainy Tuesday morning. The alarm blares. As you begin to wake and wonder how it could possibly be morning already, your good intentions dawn on you. It’s run morning – and it’s the last thing you want to do.

Posted in Aging, Cancer, Diabetes, Environment, Hub Selects, Injury, Mental Health, Research, Social | Comments closed

Global challenges of health in the workplace

Over 54% of the world’s population live in urban areas, and over the next decade the growth of cities is expected to be greatest in Africa – the part of the world currently the least covered by workplace health. If we get this right, the potential to improve human wellbeing is vast. Evidence of the effectiveness of workplace health (or ‘wellness’) programmes is often unclear, and in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) the evidence is particularly thin. I have recently been investigating workplace health in LMICs* – desk research and a series of key informant interviews (India, China, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina) – and, while many of the challenges are problems for workplaces everywhere, they are often more acute in lower-income countries. A 2016 survey of 430 organisations found that the top three workplace-health issues globally are all related to non-communicable diseases (NCDs): poor nutrition, physical inactivity and stress.

Posted in Aging, Aid, Cancer, Conferences, eHealth, Environment, HIV/AIDS, Hub Selects, Human Rights, Research, Social | Comments closed

Tom Petty died from a cardiac arrest – what makes this different to a heart attack and heart…

Rolling Stone magazine landed in a spot of bother on Monday after publicising news of rock star Tom Petty’s death prematurely, while others said it was the result of a heart attack rather than a cardiac arrest. Petty unfortunately did subsequently pass away, from a cardiac arrest, but it’s important to note neither a cardiac arrest nor a heart attack is synonymous with death. Albeit infrequently, sufferers of cardiac arrest can be revived and a heart attack is associated with a relatively low risk of dying within 18 months with current treatment in Australia. Both are types of heart disease, as is heart failure.

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Drug counterfeiting – a 21st century solution to an age-old problem

Heard of blockchain technology? Ever wondered what it has to do with public health? When it comes to drug counterfeiting, this emerging technology may be the silver bullet for securing quality, safety and equity. Ensuring the safety and integrity of the global medicine supply chain is one of the most complex challenges facing healthcare delivery.

Posted in Aid, Delivery, Environment, Equity & Access, Hub Selects, Malaria, Technology | Comments closed

The ABCs of cervical cancer prevention in remote locations

In 2014, DB Peru launched The Amazon Community-Based Participatory Cervical Cancer Prevention Programme as a collaborative approach to screening and treatment of cervical cancer in Lower Napo River (LNR) communities in the Peruvian Amazon. In the remote LNR, shaping a programme that addressed community needs, such as health literacy and improving access to healthcare, as well as ensuring a high level of clinical gynaecological care, was a challenge. In preparation, we collated a range of diverse resources from around the world. We gathered knowledge at international conferences, spoke to professionals at the coal-face of cancer prevention in low-resource settings, sourced donations from a range of companies, and collaborated with local government services. Most importantly, we worked beside communities to understand their needs, and shape local solutions to education, screening and treatment of cervical cancer.

Posted in Cancer, Conferences, Equity & Access, Gender, Hub Selects, Online, Poverty, Research, Social, Violence & Conflict | Tagged | Comments closed

Taking the pulse of heart disease

On Saturday 26 – Wednesday 30 August, the world’s largest cardiovascular congress will take place In Barcelona, Spain. The ESC congress will convene global experts and present advancements in cardiovascular medicine worldwide. To bring us up to speed on all thing cardiovascular health, Dr Anna Beale ‘takes the pulse’ of heart disease in this piece.   In 2017, healthcare spending continues to rise globally. Total health expenditure as a percentage of total GDP increased from 8.5% in 1995 to 9.8% in 2014

Posted in Cardiovascular, Diabetes, Hub Selects, Online, Poverty, Publications, Research | Tagged | Comments closed

The Global Action Plan for Physical Activity

This month the World Health Organization launched the consultation on the draft global action plan to promote physical activity. The development of this action plan represents unprecedented high-level support for the physical activity agenda and reflects the advancement in science as well as the effective advocacy efforts of many NGOs and civil society. The development of the draft action plan was informed by a group of global experts representing a range of sectors including health, sport, transport, and urban planning, and spanning academics, practitioners and policymakers. The multi-sectoral nature of this group is reflective of the clear intent of the action plan – to highlight the contribution that physical activity can make to a broad range of non-health agendas, and to encourage a comprehensive and coherent response to global and national action. The over-arching goal of the strategy is to get one hundred million people more active by 2030.

Posted in Environment, Hub Selects, Online, Research | Tagged | Comments closed

Managing overweight and obesity in children and young people

Why is excess weight a problem in children and young people? Currently too many children and adolescents across the world are already overweight or obese (i.e. too heavy for their age, height and sex). This is a concern because children with obesity are at a greater risk of developing a number of serious problems during childhood such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, joint and sleep complaints. Children with excess weight can also suffer from low self-esteem, stigmatization and mental health problems which can lead to reduced quality of life.

Posted in Aging, Cancer, Diabetes, Environment, Hub Selects, Mental Health, Online, Research | Tagged | Comments closed

Measuring the double burden of air pollution

On a recent trip to China to collect data on air pollution as part of the China Kadoorie Biobank prospective cohort study, Ka Hung Chan was struck by the limitations of available personal exposure collection and monitoring devices. Without improved devices and data, we won’t clear the air on pollution in heavily burdened LMICs – and generate much needed political attention and investment in prevention.   In the latest Global Burden of Disease study, ambient and household air pollution* were together ranked the 4th leading risk factors of disease burden (after dietary risks, tobacco smoke and high blood pressure), accounting for 6.5 million premature deaths in 2015. Up to 90% of these deaths occurred in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), many of which are undergoing industrialisation and suffering from ever-worsening ambient air pollution (AAP), as well as unresolved household air pollution (HAP) from domestic solid fuel use – this is the  ‘double burden of air pollution’.   Available evidence While AAP has been rising on the global public health agenda in recent years, early epidemiological investigations begun after the infamous 1952 London smog event

Posted in Cardiovascular, Climate Change, Environment, Funding, Hub Selects, Mental Health, Publications, Research, Social, Technology | Tagged , | Comments closed

The global war on tobacco is far from over

0000-0002-1767-4576We should be proud of our efforts in Australia, but we can’t become complacent as Big Tobacco continues to sell trillions of cigarettes globally, and other industries adopt their tactics. ONE could easily be mistaken for thinking the war on tobacco is coming to a close. Lighting up a cigarette mid-flight seems absurd to us now, but was common practice just a decade or two ago. We enjoy restaurant meals and afternoon coffees without the stench of toxic smoke and we can share a night out without having to wash our clothes, or endure a husky, sore throat the following morning. Australia now has one of the lowest smoking rates in the world, with 14.7% of adults aged 18 years and over smoking daily, down from 16.1% in 2011-12.

Posted in Aging, Cancer, Hub Selects, Research, WASH | Tagged | Comments closed

Multisectoral action for noncommunicable diseases – what, why, how?

developThe Sustainable Development Goals include a target (Target 3.4) to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) by one third, by 2030. Several documents guide countries in achieving this target through the implementation of appropriate policy measures, including the Global Action Plan 2013 – 2020. Specifically, a multisectoral approach is one of the key actions recommended for the prevention and control of NCDs. In 2014, the UN high-level meeting (UNHLM) adopted four time-bound commitments to be achieved by 2018. One of them is having an operational multisectoral action plan (MSAP)

Posted in Environment, Hub Selects, Infectious Disease, Noncommunicable Disease, Online, Publications, Research | Comments closed