Sunday, October 16, 2011

World Food Day 2011 - Starved for Attention

Click the video below for an introduction to Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF)'s brilliant campaign for World Food Day 2011. To view more photos and videos and to help rewrite the story of malnutrition, click here

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Norway brings the conditions of everyday life to the heart of health policy

Norway has just released its new Public Health Act, which aims to bring the social determinants of health to the heart of health policy at the national, regional, and local level. From the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services:

"Minister of Health and Care Services Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen will attend the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health on 19-21 October 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The conference will bring together Member States and stakeholders to share experiences on policies and strategies aiming to reduce health inequities. As of 11 October 103 Member States have confirmed their attendance, including 60 ministers.

In the Norwegian context an important step in implementing Report No. 20 to the Storting (2006-2007) National strategy to reduce social inequalities in health is the newly launched Public Health Act which places reducing health inequalities through action on social determinants of health at the heart of Public Health nationally, regionally and locally."

Norwegian Public Health Act (pdf)
Norwegian Public Health Act short introduction (pdf)

To learn more about public health policies across Europe, download or order a copy of Health for all? A Critical Analysis of Public Health Policies in Eight European Countries, a brilliant book published by the Swedish National Institute of Public Health, featured here in 2009.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Marmot's "evidence-based optimism" on global action for health equity

Sir Michael Marmot, Bulletin of the World Health Organization, October 2011:

“Closing the gap in a generation is a rousing call. Did the World Health Organization’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH) really believe it to be possible? Technically, certainly. Yes, there is a greater than 40-year spread in life expectancy among countries and dramatic social gradients in health within countries. But the evidence suggests that we can make great progress towards closing the health gap by improving, as the CSDH put it, the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.

...In the three years since Closing the gap in a generation was published, there is no question that there is much to make us gloomy...On the positive side, however, much has happened to support my claim that I am an evidence-based optimist...

...The ambition of the CSDH was to create a global movement for social determinants and health equity. As the global community gathers in Rio de Janeiro in October for the conference on social determinants of health, we are at a crucial juncture. Will the call for social justice and the need to formulate all policies to benefit health equity remain something, at best, honoured in speech alone? Or will the global community recognize that action on social determinants of health is not only vital for health equity but has other highly desirable societal outcomes including social cohesion, reduction of crime and civil unrest, a more educated workforce and the freedom for people to lead lives they have reason to value."

Read Sir Michael Marmot's full piece in the WHO Bulletin
Follow PAHO/WHO Equidad on Twitter:

WHO: Action on social determinants of health is essential to tackle noncommunicable diseases

Bulletin of the World Health Organization, October 2011: 

“…..Noncommunicable diseases cannot be effectively addressed without action on social determinants of health. Without addressing social inequalities and the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, along with the reasons that health systems work better for some population groups than for others – that is, adopting a social determinants approach – prospects for reversing the noncommunicable diseases epidemics are poor.

This year’s United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (in New York) and the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health (in Rio de Janeiro) provide a unique opportunity for progress.

There may never be a better global platform for countries, civil society and international organizations to commit to a coherent social determinants approach to tackling noncommunicable diseases and other global priorities at local, national and global levels. In this context, we explain why a social determinants approach is essential for combating noncommunicable diseases, discuss what such an approach entails, and identify priority actions for the global community…”

Read more from the WHO Bulletin

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Partners In Health publishes Program Management Guide

Congratulations to Partners In Health (PIH) for publishing this important resource, and thanks to the PIH Institute for Health and Social Justice for publishing their excellent reader (see below).

“Based on PIH’s experiences over the last 25 years, this guide offers an approach to starting, revamping, or expanding a healthcare program in resource-poor settings. PIH has received many inquiries from nascent organizations and established practitioners who are working to promote a rights-based approach to care. This guide discusses complex challenges that implementers commonly face, and shares lessons we have learned and the strategies that have helped us implement programs in collaboration with a wide range of partners.” -Jill Hackett, PIH Training Director

UNICEF - Austerity measures threaten children and poor households

UNICEF, Isabel Ortiz et. al, September 2011

"A new UNICEF study warns of the "irreversible impacts" of International Monetary Fund (IMF) austerity measures on children and poor households. The authors argue that excessively restrictive policies undermine IMF pledges to build social safety nets to protect the vulnerable. Instead of increasing investments in life-saving health, education and other social programs, in 2010, more than a quarter of developing nations were struggling to reduce spending to pre-2007 levels IMF-imposed fiscal policies must be carefully reviewed and replaced with alternative policies aimed at strengthening the social safety net for the most vulnerable." - IHSJ

Read more via the Institute for Health and Social Justice (IHSJ) reader.
Read the full article at the UNICEF website.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Grappling with the tensions around non-communicable diseases (NCDs)

From the Institute for Health and Social Justice (IHSJ) Reader:

"By 2030, the burden of disease from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) will be three times greater than that of communicable disease and maternal, perinatal, and nutritional conditions combined. The upcoming United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs has stirred tensions around global health funding. However, these conflicts could be allayed by redirecting focus to strengthening health systems so they deliver comprehensive, integrated care rather than debating whether communicable or noncommunicable diseases should receive more funding." - Sir George Allyne, Alafia Samu els, Karen Sealey, Global Health Magazine.

Read more: full article at Global Health Magazine.
Learn more with updates from the Institute for Health and Social Justice.

Informing the 2011 UN Session on Noncommunicable Diseases: Applying Lessons from the AIDS Response

From the Institute for Health and Social Justice (IHSJ) Reader:

"In two weeks, the United Nations (UN) High-Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases will begin, providing the first formal UN opportunity for the international community to raise awareness of the burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Global advocates are hoping to apply the lessons learned in the global response to HIV to inform the structure of the NCD response. In order to prevent, diagnose, and treat the dual burden of communicable and noncommunicable diseases that are disproportionately felt among the poorest billion people in the world, plans must focus on strengthening health care from the community to the tertiary care centers."

Read more: link to full article on PLoS Medicine
Learn more with updates from the Institute for Health and Social Justice.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Compulsory licensing of generic drugs remains in quagmires

From the Institute for Health and Social Justice (IHSJ) Reader:

"Nearly a decade after the Doha Declaration determined that countries facing public health emergencies have the right to import generic drugs from developed countries, there has only been one instance in which a drug was successfully delivered to a developing country. Though several countries have enacted compulsory licensing legislation, the complicated application process deters low- and middle-income countries from turning to the EU or Canada to access cheaper treatment. Meanwhile, India, which has long served as the “pharmacy to the developing world,” is being forced to comply with international trade law by halting the production of generics patented after 1995."

Visit the IHSJ, the advocacy arm of Partners In Health.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Action: Tell the UN to Focus on Poverty-Related Diseases

From Partners In Health: "In September 2011 the United Nations will hold a High-Level Meeting (HLM) on the prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). Much of the attention leading up to the conference has been focused on preventing NCDs by addressing lifestyle factors including diet, tobacco use, etc.

At Partners In Health we are particularly concerned with NCDs which are highly prevalent among the world’s poorest billion but are more often caused by poverty-related factors including indoor cooking stoves, malnutrition, etc.

Please add your name to the statement below to highlight and request attention to these causes of NCDs. We will share the statement and total numbers of signatories with the official delegations attending the HLM from the countries where PIH works and request that they also focus on solutions to the poverty-related causes in the outcomes document and programs developing from the HLM."

Download the full statement here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

DRC: Fighting A Cholera Epidemic

A cholera epidemic is sweeping down the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Originating in the distant centre of the vast central African country it has now reached the capital, Kinshasa, more than 1,000 miles southwest. People are sick and dying and desperate for help. Robin Meldrum went to the town of Mbandaka, where an MSF emergency team is responding to the crisis.