Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Global Health: Time to Pay Attention to Chronic Diseases

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From the 1 Ju;ly 2014 blog post

…While infectious diseases remain a significant problem in the developing world, cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases are now among the fastest growing causes of death and disability around the globe. In fact, nearly three-quarters of the 38 million people who died of chronic diseases in 2012 lived in low- or middle-income countries [1].

The good news is that many NCDs can be prevented by making lifestyle changes, such as reducing salt intake for hypertension, stopping smoking for cancer and heart disease, or venting cookstove fumes for lung disease. Other NCDs can be averted or controlled by taking medications, such as statins for high cholesterol or metformin for diabetes.

 

July 2, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Global Health and Human Rights Database

Global Health and Human Rights Database.

  • A free online database of law from around the world relating to health and human rights.Offers an interactive, searchable, and fully indexed website of case law, national constitutions and international instruments
  • Features case law and other legal documents from more than 80 countries and in 25 languages.
  • Provides 500 plain-language summaries and 200 original translations of case law previously unavailable in English.
  • Developed by Lawyers Collective and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, in collaboration with over 100 partners from civil society, academic, and legal practice worldwide.
  • Links to Additional Resources

 

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June 28, 2014 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , | Leave a comment

New Report: Call for President Obama Urged to ‘Remove Public Veil of Ignorance’ Around State of US Health

From the 29 August 2013 Science Daily article

In a call to action on the sorry comparative state of U.S. health, researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health are urging President Obama to “remove the public veil of ignorance” and confront a pressing question: Why is America at the bottom? The report, published in the journal Science, appeals to the President to mobilize government to create a National Commission on the Health of Americans. The researchers underscore the importance of this effort in order for the country to begin reversing the decline in the comparative status of U.S. health, which has been four decades in the making.

This is not a challenge that can be left to private groups, no matter how well meaning. Drs. Ronald Bayer and Amy Fairchild, both Professors of Sociomedical Sciences, argue, “The health status of Americans is a social problem that demands social solutions.” More is at stake than the U.S. healthcare system, which fails to provide needed care to millions of Americans. “There is a need for bold public policies that move beyond individual behavior to address the fundamental causes of disease,” Bayer and Fairchild conclude.

A January 2013 report by the U.S. National Research Council (NRC) and Institute of Medicine (IOM) ranks the United States last among peer nations in health status and compares it unfavorably to 17 peer countries at almost every stage of the life course. The report, titled “U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health,” emphasizes that socioeconomic causes are the drivers of these outcomes and details the categories in which the U.S. has the worst or next-to-worst results:

  • The U.S. has higher rates of adverse birth outcomes, heart disease, injuries from motor vehicle accidents and violence, sexually acquired diseases, and chronic lung disease.
  • Americans lose more years of life to alcohol and other drugs.
  • The U.S. has the highest rate of infant mortality among high-income countries.
  • The U.S. has the second highest incidence of AIDS and ischemic heart disease,
  • For decades, the U.S. has experienced the highest rates of obesity in children and adults as well as diabetes from age 20 and up.

Read the entire article here

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Health Statistics, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Society must come to a conclusion on how important human suffering is

Society must come to a conclusion on how important human suffering is

Very interesting thoughts on the goals of Western medicine. Should medicine be about alleviating suffering? Totally eradicating disease through industrializing medicine (thing drug companies)? If global health is indeed largely affected by socioeconomic factors, should medicine drive policies?

Click here to read the article

January 12, 2013 Posted by | environmental health, health care, Public Health | , , | 1 Comment

The Global Burden of Disease 2010

Originally posted on On Social Justice, Sociology & Global Health:

gobal-healthThe massive collaborative project known as The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010) has just been published. The GBD is a comprehensive assessment of mortality and loss of health due to diseases, injuries and risk factors in all regions of the world.

From the Executive Summary:

The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010) is the largest ever systematic effort to describe the global distribution and causes of a wide array of major diseases, injuries, and health risk factors. The results show that infectious diseases, maternal and child illness, and malnutrition now cause fewer deaths and less illness than they did twenty years ago. As a result, fewer children are dying every year, but more young and middle-aged adults are dying and suffering from disease and injury, as non-communicable diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, become the dominant causes of death and disability worldwide. Since 1970…

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December 27, 2012 Posted by | health | , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Maternal Health and the Status of Women

[Reblog]

Maternal Health and the Status of Women

Both globally and domestically, maternal health and the standing of women are inextricably linked. If women do not have the means and access to give birth safely, with trained and educated midwives, physicians and nurses, with appropriate prenatal education and care, it is often indicative of the standing of women in their communities and countries overall. Women’s inequality is also linked to the soaring population growth in developing countries, which will pose a range of new challenges for the next few generations.

Some may point to the United States as an anomaly, citing women’s increasing economic and financial independence, education, and leadership roles in America, while in terms of maternal health rankings, we remain pathetically far down the line for our resources (49 other countries are safer places to give birth than the U.S. – despite us spending more money on healthcare than anywhere else). Of course, the recent and incessant attacks on allowing women to access credible, accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education and services makes this statistic not entirely…surprising, shall we say.

So, I found the incredibly detailed and visually impressive infographic by the National Post, pulled from spectacular data and research done by Save the Children to be particularly fascinating. What they did was combine information on the health, economic, and education status of women to create overall rankings of the best and worst countries for women, splitting the countries into categories of more developed, less developed, and least developed, and the countries were ranked in relation to the other countries in their category (the divisions were based on the 2008 United Nations Population Division’s World Population Prospects, which most recently no longer classified based on development standing). While these divisions and the rankings can certainly be contentious and may incite some disagreement (nothing unusual there, these kind of rankings usually are), I thought the results were interesting. Some highlights – Norway is first, Somalia is last. The United States was 19th, and Canada was 17th (Estonia fell in between us and the Great White North) in the most developed. Israel is first in the less developed category, and Bhutan is first in the least developed category. The full report with data from Save the Children is also available, if you want to learn more about the information combined to make this image. Take a look:

[larger image at http://larkincallaghan.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/best-and-worst-places-to-be-a-woman.jpg]

A Woman’s Place – Courtesy of the National Post

One thing that I thought was particularly great was that the researchers combined women’s health and children’s heath data to create rankings specific to being a mother, when that category is sometimes only assessed based on access to reproductive care.The specific rankings of maternal health highlights largely mimics the overall standing of women, as seen here – Norway is number one, again, and Niger falls into last place:

Mother’s Index, Courtesy of Save the Children

I think these images and graphs are particularly moving given one of the top health stories coming out of the New York Times today, which showed that a recent Johns Hopkins study indicated meeting the contraception needs of women in developing countries could reduce maternal mortality (and thereby increase the standing of women in many of the nations doing poorly in the above ranking) globally by a third. When looking at the countries in the infographic that have low rates of using modern contraception and the correlation between that and their ranking in terms of status of women, it’s not surprising what the JH researchers found. Many of the countries farther down in the rankings have rates below 50%, and for those countries filling the bottom 25 slots, none of them even reach a rate that is a third of the population in terms of contraceptive use – which of course in most cases has to do with availability, not choice. Wonderfully, the Gates Foundation yesterday announced that they would be donating $1 billion to increase the access to contraceptives in developing countries.

Also of note, and in relation to maternal and newborn health, is a new study recently published by Mailman researchers that showed PEPFAR funded programs in sub-Saharan Africa increased access to healthcare facilities for women (particularly important for this region, as 50% of maternal deaths occur there), thereby increasing the number of births occurring in these facilities – reducing the avoidable (and sometimes inevitable) complications from labor and delivery, decreasing the chance of infection and increasing treatment if contracted. This has clear implications for children as well (and why I think this study relates to the National Post infographic and the NY Times article), since newborns are also able to be assessed by trained healthcare workers and potentially life-threatening conditions averted – including HIV, if the newborns have HIV+ mothers and need early anti-retroviral treatment and a relationship with a healthcare worker and system. And it goes without saying that if a new mother is struggling with post-delivery healthcare issues, including abscesses and fistulas, or was dealing with a high-risk pre-labor condition like preeclampsia, the child will have an increasingly difficult early life, perhaps even a motherless one.

July 16, 2012 Posted by | Health Statistics, Public Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2012 Global Ranking of Countries by Environmental Performance

Originally posted on Pollution Free Cities:

The 2012 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) (99 page pdf, Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Yale University, Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University, 2012)

Also discussed here: New Rankings on Environmental Performance (The Dirt, ASLA, Jun. 5, 2012)

The Environmental Performance Index assesses the relative progress of 132 countries with 22 performance indicators. The 2012 ranking showed Switzerland, Latvia and Norway at the top, Canada in 37th position and the USA, 49th. Rising greenhouse gas emissions are a particular challenge for developed countries while safe drinking water is the biggest one for developing countries. Major data gaps exist for monitoring air pollution and greenhouse gas with the notable exception of the European Union(which had 20 of the top ranked 22 countries overall).

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, clickHERE

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July 3, 2012 Posted by | environmental health | , , | Leave a comment

Journal launches big series on “Big Food” and public health

English: Montage of images used to illustrate ...

English: Montage of images used to illustrate mission of PLoS Medicine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 25 June 2012 post by Gary Schwitzer at HealthNewsReview.org

The journal PLoS Medicine has begun to publish a series of articles -  “a multidisciplinary approach to exploring the role in health of Big Food, which we define as the multinational food and beverage industry with huge and concentrated market power.”  Excerpt of an editors’ note:

“The time is ripe for PLoS Medicine to shine a light on Big Food. Foremost, large food and beverage companies now have an undeniably influential presence on the global health stage. Whether it’s food company executives providing expertise at major conferences and high-level UN meetings or major global health funders lecturing on what nongovernmental organizations can learn from Coca-Cola, the perspectives and experiences of Big Food are shaping the field of global health. At the same time that their expertise is elevated in global health debates, food companies are rebranding themselves as “nutrition companies,” offering business acumen and knowledge in food science and distribution, and asserting authority over solutions to problems not just of food production but of malnutrition, obesity, and even poverty. The legitimization of food companies as global health experts is further fueled by the growing number of private-public partnerships with public health organizations, ostensibly designed to foster collaborative action to improve people’s health and wellbeing. And yet food companies’ primary obligation is to drive profit by selling food. Why does the global health community find this acceptable and how do these conflicts of interest play out?

Indeed, while problems of obesity and associated disease are dominating discussions and debates in health around the world, there’s a concomitant gulf of critical perspectives on the food industry’s role and competing interests. Despite PLoS Medicine‘s longstanding interest in the tobacco, pharmaceutical, and other industries in health, for example, we have paid relatively little attention to the activities and influence of food and beverage companies.”

Here are links to two pieces:

June 25, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

WHO: Urgent action needed to prevent the spread of untreatable gonorrhoea

6 JUNE 2012 | GENEVA - Millions of people with gonorrhoea may be at risk of running out of treatment options unless urgent action is taken, according WHO. Already several countries, including Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom are reporting cases of resistance to cephalosporin antibiotics – the last treatment option against gonorrhoea. Every year an estimated 106 million people are infected with gonorrhea, which is transmitted sexually.

Dwindling treatment options

“Gonorrhoea is becoming a major public health challenge, due to the high incidence of infections accompanied by dwindling treatment options,” says Dr Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan, from the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at WHO. “The available data only shows the tip of the iceberg. Without adequate surveillance we won’t know the extent of resistance to gonorrhoea and without research into new antimicrobial agents, there could soon be no effective treatment for patients.”

Correct use of antibiotics needed

In new guidance issued today, WHO is calling for greater vigilance on the correct use of antibiotics and more research into alternative treatment regimens for gonococcal infections. WHO’s Global Action Plan to control the spread and impact of antimicrobial resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoea also calls for increased monitoring and reporting of resistant strains as well as better prevention, diagnosis and control of gonococcal infections.

Health implications are important

Gonorrhoea makes up one quarter of the four major curable sexually-transmitted infections1. Since the development of antibiotics, the pathogen has developed resistance to many of the common antibiotics used as treatment, including penicillin, tetracyclines and quinolones.

“We are very concerned about recent reports of treatment failure from the last effective treatment option – the class of cephalosporin antibiotics – as there are no new therapeutic drugs in development,” says Dr Lusti-Narasimhan. “If gonococcal infections become untreatable, the health implications are significant.”

Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance is caused by the unrestricted access to antimicrobials, overuse and poor quality of antibiotics, as well as natural genetic mutations within disease organisms. In addition, gonorrhoea strains tend to retain genetic resistance to previous antibiotics even after their use has been discontinued. The extent of this resistance worldwide is not known due to lack of reliable data for gonorrhoea in many countries and insufficient research.

Gonorrhoea

Untreated gonococcal infection can cause health problems in men, women and newborn babies including:

  • infection of the urethra, cervix and rectum;
  • infertility in both men and women;
  • a significantly increased risk of HIV infection and transmission;
  • ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, stillbirths and premature deliveries; and
  • severe eye infections occur in 30-50% of babies born to women with untreated gonorrhoea, which can lead to blindness.

Gonorrhoea can be prevented through safer sexual intercourse. Early detection and prompt treatment, including of sexual partners, is essential to control sexually transmitted infections.

For more information please contact:

Tarik Jasarevic,
Communications Officer
Mobile: +41 793 676 214
Telephone: +41 22 791 5099
E-mail: jasarevict@who.int


June 9, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Better urban planning is essential to improve health of the 60 percent of the global population that will be living in cities by 2030

From the 29 May 2012 EurekAlert

The proportion of the world’s population that lives in cities has been steadily rising, so that three in five of all people globally will live in a city by 2030. The University College London/LancetCommission on Healthy Cities explores the many issues other than health services that contribute to population health in a city environment.

The Commission has been prepared by lead author Professor Yvonne Rydin, UCL Bartlett School of Planning, and colleagues at UCL and worldwide. The authors address issues that apply globally and use specific examples from cities as diverse as London, Bogota, Accra, and Toronto to illustrate the issues.

Just as London’s first modern, large-scale, urban sewage treatment system resulted in a 15-year increase in life expectancy between the 1880s and the 1920s, so other large-scale planning initiatives can radically change the health outcomes of city-dwellers – especially for the poorest. In this report the authors recommend focussing on the delivery of a variety of urban projects that have a positive impact on health.

Examples from the report include community-led sanitation infrastructure programmes in the slums of Mumbai, India; action for urban greening to protect against heat stress in London summers; and transportation initiatives that encourage physical activity in Bogota, Colombia….

The Commission authors looked at cities as complex, interactive entities in which changes in one part of the system can have impacts on others. They use five case studies to illustrate important themes for healthy cities.

Each case study supports the argument for a new way of planning for urban health. Planners need to recognise that conditions of complexity make it difficult to capture all the necessary information about the links affecting urban health in one plan or strategy. Unintended consequences of policy action are likely to persist. Instead planners should be working with all urban health stakeholders, including local communities, particularly vulnerable communities.

Professor Rydin says: “There should be an emphasis on experimenting with and learning from diverse urban health projects. This can mean supporting communities in their own urban health projects, as with community latrines in Mumbai slums or urban food projects in London and Detroit.”

The Commission concludes with five recommendations:

  1. City governments should build political alliances for urban health.
  2. Governments need to identify the health inequalities in cities.
  3. Urban planners should include health concerns in their plans, regulations, and decisions.
  4. Policy makers need to recognise that cities are complex systems and urban health outcomes have multiple causes.
  5. Experimentation and learning through projects involving local communities is often the best way forward….

 

 

May 31, 2012 Posted by | environmental health | , | Leave a comment

Infection Causes 1 in 6 Cancers Worldwide: Study

From the 9 May 2012 Medical News Today article

WEDNESDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) — One in six cancers worldwide is caused by preventable or treatable infections, a new study finds.

Infections cause about 2 million cancer cases a year, and 80 percent of those cases occur in less developed areas of the world, according to the study, which was published online May 8 in The Lancet Oncology. Of the 7.5 million cancer deaths worldwide in 2008, about 1.5 million were due to potentially preventable or treatable infections.

“Infections with certain viruses, bacteria and parasites are one of the biggest and most preventable causes of cancer worldwide,” lead authors Catherine de Martel and Martyn Plummer, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, said in a journal news release. “Application of existing public-health methods for infection prevention — such as vaccination, safer injection practice or antimicrobial treatments — could have a substantial effect on future burden of cancer worldwide.”…

May 12, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Epidemiology: What Is It and Why Should Adult Children Know About It? With Link to a Related Supercourse

From the 14th January posting at As Our Parents Age – Timely Topics for Adult Children

It happens over and over again as I listen to the radio or read the news. I hear about an aging parent issue or a disease that is increasing in magnitude. Or sometime it’s a health issue that is affecting certain groups of people or a new bit of research the describes problems with an intervention — one that I thought was working well. Invariably these stories make me ask why? Sometimes I ask a more personal question, “If that seems to work for me, how come researchers say is isn’t effective?”

In just about every case, I answer my question by learning more about the study of epidemiology — a field that explores and collects data about how diseases specifically and health issues in general occur and affect people and in certain places. Epidemiology measures by some period of time. This short video from the Centers from Disease Control explains more.

Epidemiology can be difficult to understand, especially because people, including me, tend to personalize the issues. Here are just a few questions to illustrate this personalization.

  • What risk factors for exposure to hazards contribute to aging parent falls as individuals age (in fact we are talking here about people over 60)? Why don’t people worry environmental health problems  and do things early on to prevent falls?
  • How come after years and years, I’m suddenly told that yearly mammograms are less important?
  • Why are men being cautioned to reconsider using prostate tests for routine cancer screening?
  • Why are older seniors now being told to consider getting fewer screening tests such as colonoscopies as they age?

Click here to read the rest of the blog item

Related Resource

Supercourse: Epidemiology, Global Health, and the Internet

Supercourse is a repository of lectures on global health and prevention designed to improve the teaching of prevention. Supercourse has a network of over 56000 scientists in 174 countries who are sharing for free a library of 5050 lectures in 31 languages.

January 17, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Transending Borders Towards Global Health’

From the Eureka News Alert (December 20, 2011) 

Transcending Borders Towards Global Health is a thought stimulating conference, convening leaders, changemakers, and participants from all areas of global health. The conference is set to engage stakeholders through a critical and integrated assessment of the state of global health as well as the policies and actions taken to reduce disparities in global health and unacceptable levels of poor health framed within five key themes: international health, ecohealth, marginalized communities, education, and advocacy and activism.

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The conference is sponsored by the Office of Global Health in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at The University of Western Ontario. It takes place April 27-29, 2012 at the London Convention Centre in London, Ontario, Canada.

The agenda, speakers list and registration details can be found at http://www.transendingborders.ca .

December 21, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , | Leave a comment

The Durban Platform on Climate Control

Progress towards the meeting of the Kyoto targ...

Source below ***

Excerpt from the Brookings Institute article by Nathan Hultman

After extending negotiations nearly two days beyond their originally scheduled deadline, negotiators at the climate change meeting in Durban have agreed on a set of agreements, including a high-profile deal called the “Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.” As discussed in my earlier post, the agenda at Durban was unusually complex, as it encompassed both relatively narrow discussions about how to implement earlier decisions as well as broad discussions about the future climate regime under complementary (and some might say competing) visions for international action. There were essentially three big questions at Durban, and all have been addressed, although not all in a meaningful manner.

December 13, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Global Peace Index 2011 « Vision of Humanity

Global Peace Index 2011 

From the Main Web Page

KEYFINDINGS

  • The world is less peaceful for the third straight year
  • Due to an increased threat of terrorist attacks in 29 nations
  • A greater likelihood of violent demonstrations in 33 countries
  • Arab Spring unrest heralds biggest ever change in rankings, Libya tumbles 83 spots
  • Iceland bounces back from economic woes to top ranking
  • Somalia displaces Iraq as world’s least peaceful nation
  • Violence cost the global economy more than $8.12 trillion in 2010
  • US peacefulness shows minimal change

See the results and interactive map

About the Global Peace Index (GPI)
The GPI, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, is the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness. It gauges ongoing domestic and international conflict, safety and security in society, and militarisation in 153 countries by taking into account 23 separate indicators.
See the Downloads section to the right to download the full GPI Report, Fact Sheet, Discussion paper and other materials.

MOREFROMTHE2011RESULTS

Impact of Arab Spring Unrest
The 2011 Index dramatically reflects the impact on national rankings of the Arab Spring.Libya (143) saw the most significant drop – falling 83 places; Bahrain (123) dropped by 51 places – the second largest margin; while Egypt (73) dropped 24 places.

Index influenced by internal conflict & not warfare between countries
The fall in peacefulness in this year’s Index is strongly tied to conflict between citizens and their governments rather than conflicts with other nations.

Threat of Terrorism Climbs
Despite the decade long War on Terror, the likelihood of terrorist attacks has increased in the past year in 29 countries.

Spend on Weapons falls
While the overall level of peacefulness was down, this year’s data did show increased peacefulness in some areas – most notably levels of military expenditure as a % of GDP and relations between neighbouring states.

See the results and interactive map

December 2, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Novel Index For Tracking Drug Resistance – Drug Resistance Index

 

A schematic representation of how antibiotic r...

Image via Wikipedia, A schematic representation of how antibiotic resistance is enhanced by natural selection,

From the 17 November 2011 Medical News Today article

Ramanan Laxminarayan, Director of Extending the Cure, and Keith P. Klugman, Professor of Global Health at Emory University describe a novel index for tracking resistance in a report published in this week’s British Medical Journal Open.

Similar to a Consumer Price Index (CPI) but for drug resistance, the tool accumulates information of resistance trends andantibiotic use into one single measure of antibiotic resistance over time. The DRI is designed for application at any level, from local hospitals to national healthcare system surveillance. It can be used by hospitals to track their own resistance levels and to measure their own success of interventions, such as antibiotic stewardship and infection control programs.

The researchers explain how the index can be applied to evaluate trends in resistance linked to two disease-causing microorganisms, namely Escherichia coli and Acinetobacter baumannii. It is also able to highlight how physicians adapt to resistance trends. In this analysis for example, the index displayed how physicians were able to use other drugs for treating resistant strains of E. coli infections, and how very few options remained for treating Acinetobacter, a super bug, which is more and more resistant to all available antibiotics. Laxminarayan declared: ……

Read the article

 

November 17, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Text Messages Could Change Global Healthcare

This October 24th Popular Mechanics story includes

  • How text messaging is used to coordinate health care by health care professionals in rural areas across long distances
  • How text messaging in Haiti was used to locate victims in search and rescue efforts despite language barriers
  • Camera phones as diagnostic aids
Excerpts
The notion that SMS could revolutionize healthcare first entered Nesbit’s mind in 2007, when he was still a Stanford undergrad. He’d just met Dickson Mtanga, a community health worker in rural Malawi who was walking 35 miles to deliver handwritten patient charts to the nearest hospital. Nesbit biked out to Mtanga’s village one day, only to discover that his cellphone got a better signal there than it did on Stanford’s campus in Palo Alto, Calif. All those bars of service jumped from the phone’s screen and slapped him across the face: These far-reaching GSM networks, he realized, could connect doctors and patients like never before.

Armed with a $5000 grant, a backpack full of old phones, and a laptop running a GSM modem and the open-source group-texting software called FrontlineSMS, Nesbit started working with the hospital and community health workers to coordinate patient care. The system they put in place allowed Mtanga and others to text in the information on those medical charts rather than making the hours-long trek. Patients could text their symptoms to doctors, cutting down on unnecessary visits for minor ailments and freeing up space for those in need of serious care. Within six months of the system going live, the number of patients being treated for tuberculosis doubled, more than 1200 hours in travel time were eliminated, and emergency services became available in the area for the first time. The operating costs in those six months: $500, Nesbit says

The explosion of cellphone use around the world has inspired a flood of new ideas about how to use that tech to improve healthcare. Besides Nesbit’s Medic Mobile, there are also ideas to turn camera phones into cheap diagnostic tools for vision problems or malaria, for example.

Patty Mechael, executive director of the U.N. Foundation’s mHealth Alliance, keeps tabs on these new techs. They all face major infrastructure hurdles, such as the lack of reliable energy sources to power phone chargers in some developing countries. But another, less tangible challenge is figuring out what mobile health programs are actually working and worth scaling up, and which ones aren’t. “What we have in mHealth are millions of flowers blooming, in many ways. Lots of pilots are being done throughout the world, many of which are reaching populations of a few thousand each,” Mechael says. “We’re at a tipping point where people are starting to say, ‘Okay, we need to be a bit more strategic, collaborative, cohesive.’”

Nesbit is among the voices calling for a more focused approach to mobile health. A wave of angst washes over his face when I ask if there’s too much hype surrounding mobile health, if it’s too saturated of a field. Hype is good, he says. What’s bad is hype that’s disconnected from implementation. All the media coverage and promises made about mobile health in recent years, he says, make it seem as if millions of health workers in developing nations have already integrated their phones into their daily practice. In reality, only about 20,000 have done so. Medic Mobile has SMS systems operating in 14 countries, and that number will jump to 20 in the next six months. Only a few thousand people are using Medic Mobile’s programs today, but the nonprofit just rolled out its first SIM card application, which can be used on virtually every mobile phone in existence. By 2015, Nesbit expects to have 500,000 community health workers using SMS applications to link patients with doctors.

If he hits those numbers, ubiquity really will be the killer app. 

5 Ways Your SmartPhone Can Diagnose You >>>

Read more: How Text Messages Could Be the Future of Healthcare – Popular Mechanics

November 2, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , | Leave a comment

Global Obesity Pandemic – Lancet articles & related articles (including press coverage)

From the 26 August edition of The Lancet

This four-part Series critically examines what we know about the global obesity pandemic: its drivers, its economic and health burden, the physiology behind weight control and maintenance, and what science tells us about the kind of actions that are needed to change our obesogenic environment and reverse the current tsunami of risk factors for chronic diseases in future generations. …

Series Papers**
The global obesity pandemic: shaped by global drivers and local environments

Boyd A Swinburn, Gary Sacks, Kevin D Hall, Klim McPherson, Diane T Finegood, Marjory L Moodie, Steven L Gortmaker

Summary | Full Text | PDF

Health and economic burden of the projected obesity trends in the USA and the UK

Y Claire Wang, Klim McPherson, Tim Marsh, Steven L Gortmaker, Martin Brown

Summary | Full Text | PDF

Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweight

Kevin D Hall, Gary Sacks, Dhruva Chandramohan, Carson C Chow, Y Claire Wang, Steven L Gortmaker, Boyd A Swinburn

Summary | Full Text | PDF

Changing the future of obesity: science, policy, and action

Steven L Gortmaker, Boyd A Swinburn, David Levy, Rob Carter, Patricia L Mabry, Diane T Finegood, Terry Huang, Tim Marsh, Marjory L Moodie
Summary | Full Text | PDF
Media Coverage
  **Do not have a subscription to The Lancet? Click here for suggestions on how to get these articles for free or at low cost.

 

August 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Turning toys into cheap, effective medical gear

Jose Gomez-Marquez tests patient samplesAt a TB hospital in Leon, Nicaragua, Jose Gomez-Marquez tests patient samples. Instead of using a pipette, he uses a drinking straw.

(Credit: Jose Gomez-Marquez)

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20093280-1/turning-toys-into-cheap-effective-medical-gear/#ixzz1VV3oFhUh

 

From the 17 August 2011 cnet news article

Jose Gomez-Marquez is like the MacGyver of medical devices, hacking toys and turning them into gadgets that can be used to diagnose conditions such as diabetes and dengue fever. By taking everyday items like Legos and bike pumps and turning them into replacements for expensive medical devices, he’s attempting to save lives on the cheap.

“Most of the devices that get donated to developing countries fail because they were not designed to be used in these environments,” Gomez-Marquez said during a visit to CNET this week to show some of his creations. “We need to make the Land Rover version of medical devices for these countries. Right now we are sending the Ferrari versions and they fail.”….

 

Gomez-Marquez is program director for MIT’s Innovations in International Health initiative, which aims to teach medical professionals in the developing world how to hack ordinary objects to make their own medical devices. With a degree in mechanical engineering and a love of design, Gomez-Marquez wants to level the playing field in health care.

“One of the ways to empower better designs is by empowering users who are everyday users of the devices,” he said. “So we made these kits to do that.”…

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August 19, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Violence in the City: Understanding and Supporting Community Responses to Urban Violence

 

 

From the summary at the World Bank

Violence in the City: Understanding and Supporting Community Responses to Urban Violence” is the first global study of urban violence conducted by the World Bank, and incorporates case studies from urban communities in Brazil (Fortaleza), Haiti (Port-au-Prince), Kenya (Nairobi), South Africa (Johannesburg) and Timor-Leste (Dili).

For millions of people around the world, violence, or the fear of violence, is a daily reality. Much of this violence concentrates in urban centers in the developing world. Cities are now home to half the world’s population and expected to absorb almost all new population growth over the next 25 years. In many cases, the scale of urban violence can eclipse those of open warfare; some of the world’s highest homicide rates occur in countries that have not undergone a war, but that have serious epidemics of violence in urban areas. This study emerged out of a growing recognition that urban communities themselves are an integral part of understanding the causes and impacts of urban violence and of generating sustainable violence prevention initiatives.

Click here for the full report

August 12, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New global health delivery curricula

From the 28 July 2011 Eureka news alert

 

Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. Jim Kim and professor Michael Porter

Boston, Mass. (July 28, 2011) –Today, the Global Health Delivery Project and Harvard Business Publishing released 21 teaching case studies examining the principles of health care delivery in resource-poor settings. The multidisciplinary body of work spans 13 countries and addresses the complexity of delivering life-saving health care technologies and care. These 21 teaching case studies are available to global health educators, students and practitioners at no cost through Harvard Business Publishing. To access the case studies, visit: www.ghdonline.org/cases.

Dr. Paul Farmer, chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said, “The publication of these cases—online, and freely accessible to the practitioners, students and educators who will benefit most from them—is an important step toward closing the know-do gap in global health. Increasingly, our feedback loop of research, teaching and service is directly strengthening the care we deliver on the ground and our ability to replicate and scale successes.”……

 

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July 29, 2011 Posted by | Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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