Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog] Here are the world’s worst cities for air pollution, and they’re not the ones you’d expect

Serious air pollution

Serious air pollution (Photo credit: Andrew.T@NN)

From the 18 October 2013 article By Ritchie King and Lily Kuo at Quartz

In 2010, some 223,000 people around the world died from lung cancer caused by exposure to air pollution, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday. And more than half of those deaths are believed to have been in China and elsewhere in East Asia. Here are the world’s worst cities for air pollution, according to the WHO.

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air-pollution-by-city

Exposure to air pollution is getting worse in parts of the world, especially industrializing countries, according to the WHO. The WHO’s key announcement yesterday was that it has included outdoor air pollution on its definitive list of the world’s known carcinogens—an addition that, it hopes, will get governments to do something about it. Air pollution is the world’s worst environmental carcinogen and more dangerous than second-hand smoke, for instance, the health body said.

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As the chart above shows, the cities with the worst air are often not big capitals, but provincial places with heavy industry in them or nearby. Ahwaz, for instance, in southwestern Iran, far outstrips infamously polluted cities like New Delhi or Beijing, with 372 parts per million of particles smaller than 10 micrometers (PM10), compared to the world average of 71. Life expectancy for the city of 1.2 million residents is the lowest in Iran.

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Why so bad? In Ahwaz, Iranian meteorology officials have blamed the US for the spike, claiming the presence of US forces in Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s destroyed agriculture and caused desertification. But researchers cite heavy industry in and around the city, like oil, metal and petrochemical processing, and blame the desertification on the draining of marshes and a national project that has diverted local water away from the city.

October 19, 2013 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

World Health Statistics 2011 now available online


The WHO (World Health Organization) World Health Statistics 2011 is now available online.

It contains WHO’s annual compilation of health-related data for its 193 Member States, and includes a summary of the progress made towards achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and associated targets.

Click here to download the full report, sections, or data tables only.

From the press report

13 MAY 2011 | GENEVA – An increasing number of countries are facing a double burden of disease as the prevalence of risk factors for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and cancers increase and many countries still struggle to reduce maternal and child deaths caused by infectious diseases, for the Millennium Development Goals, according to the World Health Statistics 2011 released by the WHO today.

Noncommunicable diseases such heart diseases, stroke, diabetes and cancer, now make up two-thirds of all deaths globally, due to the population aging and the spread of risk factors associated with globalization and urbanization. The control of risk factors such as tobacco use, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet and excessive use of alcohol becomes more critical. The latest WHO figures showed that about 4 out of 10 men and 1 in 11 women are using tobacco and about 1 in 8 adults is obese.

In addition many developing countries continue to battle health issues such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria that are most likely to kill children under the age of five. In 2009, 40% of all child deaths were among newborns (aged 28 days or less). Much more needs to be done to achieve the MDGs by the target date of 2015, but progress has accelerated.

Child mortality declined at 2.7% per year since 2000, twice as fast as during the 1990s (1.3%). Mortality among children under five years fell from 12.4 million in 1990 to 8.1 million in 2009.
Maternal mortality declined at 3.3% per year since 2000, almost twice as fast in the decade after 2000 than during the 1990s (2%). The number of women dying as a result of complications during pregnancy and childbirth has decreased from 546,000 in 1990 to 358,000 in 2008.
“This evidence really shows that no country in the world can address health from either an infectious disease perspective or a noncommunicable disease one. Everyone must develop a health system that addresses the full range of the health threats in both areas.” says Ties Boerma, Director of WHO’s Department of Health Statistics and Informatics.

The report also shows that more money is being spent on health and people can expect to live longer (life expectancy in 2009 was 68 years, up from 64 years in 1990); but the gap in health spending between low- and high-income countries remains very large.

In low-income countries, per capita, health expenditure is an estimated US$ 32 (or about 5.4% of gross domestic product) and in high-income countries it is US$ 4590 (or about 11% of gross domestic product).
High-income countries have, per capita, on average 10 times more doctors, 12 times more nurses and midwives and 30 times more dentists than low-income countries.
Virtually all deliveries of babies in high-income countries are attended by skilled health personnel; but this is the case for only 40% of deliveries in low-income countries.

Editor Flahiff’s note....This is certainly born out by my Peace Corps experience. In 1980/81 Liberia, I remember attending the funeral of a well to do area woman who died in childbirth. And I remember how heartbroken one of my students was at the death of her month old child. Malaria and diarrhea were epidemic.

I am now sponsoring a Liberian who wants to be a nurse. I cannot begin to imagine what the Liberian health care system is facing. Many of the infectious diseases will probably continue to decrease  at least partly due to better sanitation (as more pump wells as opposed to open wells). But these diseases will remain and she will be facing increasing populations with non infectious diseases. I only hope that countries with resources (as the US) will work to empower Liberians and others to meet these challenges. It is not only a matter of global security, but of respecting human dignity.

  • Nurses addressing access, quality & health (blog item at the Center for Health Media and Policy at Hunter College)

    “The first week of May, 2300 registered nurses from 123 countries attended the International Council of NursesConference in Malta. We left challenged and charged to act on the innovative ideas presented by this year’s 70 expert presenters. The topics covered were extensive including the massive increase of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), primary care, climate change, disaster nursing, and gender violence.  CHMP’s co-director, Diana Mason, delivered the keynote focusing on the conference theme, nurses driving access, quality and health,addressing social determinants of health. She provided insights into how mobile health creates access to health care and selected innovative models of care designed by nurses globally challenging us to think broadly on how we can impact change to increase access and quality care. Mason crafted a powerful visual presentation that provided the backdrop to her engaging, thought-provoking presentation which earned her a standing ovation.”….

  • Chronic diseases now leading global killer: WHO (ctv.ca)
  • WHO Warns of Enormous Burden of Chronic Disease (nlm.nih.gov)

May 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WHO Report: Social determinants approaches to public health: from concept to practice

From the April 2011 World Health Organization report

The health of a population is measured by the level of health and how this health is distributed within the population. The WHO publication from early 2010, entitled Equity, social determinants and public health programmes analysed from the perspective of thirteen priority public health conditions their social determinants and explored possible entry points for addressing the avoidable and unfair inequities at the levels of socioeconomic context, exposure, vulnerability, health-care outcome and social consequences. However, the analysis needs to go beyond concepts to explore how the social determinants of health and equity can be addressed in the real world.

This publication takes the discussion on social determinants of health and health equity to a practical level of how programmes have actually addressed the challenges faced during implementation. Social determinants approaches to public health: from concept to practice is a joint publication of the Department of Ethics, Equity, Trade and Human Rights (ETH), Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP), and Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (AHPSR).

The case studies presented in this volume cover public health programme implementation in widely varied settings, ranging from menstrual regulation in Bangladesh and suicide prevention in Canada to malaria control in Tanzania and prevention of chronic noncommunicable diseases in Vanuatu.

May 12, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | 1 Comment

Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol- WHO report

Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol

February 17, 2011 20:30

From the  WHO (World Health Organization) press release:

Wider implementation of policies is needed to save lives and reduce the health impact of harmful alcohol drinking, says a new report by WHO. Harmful use of alcohol results in the death of 2.5 million people annually, causes illness and injury to many more, and increasingly affects younger generations and drinkers in developing countries.

Alcohol use is the third leading risk factor for poor health globally. A wide variety of alcohol-related problems can have devastating impacts on individuals and their families and can seriously affect community life. The harmful use of alcohol is one of the four most common modifi able and preventable risk factors for major noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). There is also emerging evidence that the harmful use of alcohol contributes to the health burden caused by communicable diseases such as, for example, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Read the report

Related WHO Web pages

Related Resources
  • Rethinking Drinking provides research-based information about how your drinking habits can affect your health. Learn to recognize the signs of alcohol problems and ways to cut back or quit drinking. Interactive tools can also help you calculate the calories and alcohol content of drinks. (US National Institutes of Health)

February 23, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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