On September 20th, 2017, a young hunter, in his 30s, arrived at a health center in Kween District, located in Eastern Uganda, on the border with Kenya. He had symptoms of fever, bleeding, diarrhea, and vomiting. Within 5 days he was dead. Two weeks later, his sister also showed up at the same health facility: she had similar symptoms. Within a week, she too was dead. Posthumous samples confirmed that she had Marburg Virus Disease (MVD), one of the most virulent pathogens known to infect humans. On 19th October, the Ugandan government notified WHO and publicly announced an outbreak of MVD. Not long after this announcement, MVD claimed another victim – this time, the hunter’s brother.
Few people today doubt that smoking is bad. But many, including seasoned policy makers, do not realize just how bad it is. Bad for people, bad for economies, and bad for poverty reduction. In fact, tobacco use not only kills millions of people each year but places a staggering poverty and economic burden on low-income families and less-developed countries that is deepening inequalities between and within countries.
The launching of the iPhones 8 and X and the advent of genomic-based precision medicine for disease treatment and prevention, are new reminders that technological innovation is fueling momentous change in our daily lives. Indeed, as Professor Klaus Schwab, the chairman of the World Economic Forum describes, the physical, digital and biological trends underpinning what he calls 'the fourth industrial revolution', are unleashing changes “unlike anything humankind has experienced before.”
When the United Nations negotiators recently met in New York to track progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGSs), a number of side events to the High-Level Political Forum were organized to emphasize the crucial role of agriculture. I attended a couple of these events and took the opportunity to illustrate why investments in livestock will pay dividends for sustainable development, and more particularly for health.
Blood-delivering drones? Check. 3D-printer working off grid to print finger splints? Check. Disadvantaged women trained and employed in software-developing? Check. Is this how technology can deliver for development?
In 2013, I was confronted by the realization of my country’s situation at a parliamentarian workshop organized by UNICEF where I learned about the different forms of malnutrition that we face. There, I discovered that my country, Cameroon, has an overall stunting prevalence of 32% for children under age five. In other words, one in three children under the age of five is affected. I now know of the devastating effects of malnutrition on the health of families, children and adolescents and consequently on the development of our country. As a parliamentarian, I’ve worked to serve my constituency and set up a community health insurance which helps improve the coverage of vulnerable children and young people. These challenges are our daily reality, but I was surprised to see them highlighted by the President of the World Bank in Washington, DC when I traveled there for the World Bank’s Spring Meetings.
The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) crisis ended more than a year ago in Liberia. It resulted in over 10,000 cases and 5,000 deaths. For many children, the crisis continues through intrusive memories of illness, isolation, and death. These memories are particularly acute for the children directly affected by Ebola; those that were quarantined, separated from family during treatment, or orphaned. The Liberia Ministry of Health (MOH) identified 3,091 such children, and a World Bank working paper calculated that approximately 4,200 Liberian children lost one or both parents to Ebola.
A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) shares some good news: Six in 10 people worldwide are now protected by at least one of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)-recommended demand reduction measures, including taxation. The report, launched on the sidelines of the UN high-level political forum on sustainable development, also makes clear that raising taxes to increase tobacco product prices is the most cost-effective means to reduce tobacco use and prevent initiation among the youth. But it is still one of the least used tobacco control measures.
Big results, require big ambitions and there are few bigger for primary healthcare than universal immunization coverage. Governments have committed to this through the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) and the Addis Declaration on Immunisation (ADI). And while there has been good progress over the last decade – 86% of children globally now receive basic vaccinations – far too many children are still missing out. One in seven children under the age of one is still excluded from basic immunisation.
You may not have noticed it, but the planet grew a bit safer over the weekend. Starting last Saturday, the world finally became formally insured against pandemics like the dreadful Ebola outbreak that caused so much loss and suffering three years ago.