New Trends in Global Health and Development

 Climate Change and Health

World Health Organization

Global climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health including clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter. Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress. Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond. The WHO is reporting new research on this topic, and The WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific Health has released a report on how efforts to address climate change must be mainstreamed, and action must be coordinated across national boundaries and in all sectors. This report synthesizes information and approaches on climate change and health. It also examines efforts by various experts and stakeholders, with an in-depth look at experiences in seven Member States that reflect the diversity of the Region. Finally, it offers recommendations for policy-makers.


Diabetes: A Global Health and Development Challenge

International Diabetes Federation 

Countries still grappling with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria now face a double burden of disease. Major social and economic change has brought an escalating diabetes epidemic to low- and middle-income countries (LMCs). Diabetes kills and disables, impoverishes families, imposes a huge economic burden on governments and business, and overwhelms health systems. But this global shift in the burden of diabetes has not been reflected in the policy priorities of donor countries and organisations. Diabetes and the related non-communicable diseases (cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory disease) remain underfunded development issues. This policy briefing addresses common myths about diabetes in the developing world, and its impact on economic sustainability and human development.


Zika Virus: How Poverty and Politics will Determine its Social Costs

International Policy Digest

Joshua Kruskal

The author argues that the WHO January 2016 announcement that the Zika virus could infect up to four million people in the Americas has been over-dramatized. Zika, while certainly a cause for serious concern, does not merit the panic that is seemingly being encouraged via the explosion of media coverage that began in late 2015. Panic, while undoubtedly an important factor in encouraging strong state reactions to the outbreak, is likely to lead to political responses to Zika in the short term – visible measures such as airport screenings, quarantines, and awareness campaigns – rather than a more rational and sustainable approach to confronting the root causes of the epidemic.The same poor communities that are likely to be impacted the most severely by Zika are also among the least well-equipped to confront the disease. Zika is a "disease of poverty" endemic in poor regions where a lack of public health infrastructure allows illnesses to spread without significant resistance. In sum, poverty will be a critical factor in determining where the virus will hit the hardest.


Out of the Shadows: Making Mental Health a Global Priority

World Health Organization

Mental health issues impose an enormous disease burden on societies across the world. Depression alone affects 350 million people globally and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Despite its enormous social burden, mental disorders continue to be driven into the shadows by stigma, prejudice and fear. The issue is becoming ever more urgent in light of the forced migration and sustained conflict we are seeing in many countries of the world.

A two-day series of events in April, co-hosted by the World Bank and the World Health Organization aimed to move mental health from the margins to the mainstream of the global development agenda. The events to engage finance ministers, multilateral and bilateral organizations, the business community, technology innovators, and civil society will emphasize the urgent investments needed in mental health services, and the expected returns in terms of health, social and economic benefits.  


We Now live in a World in which More People are Obese than Underweight, Major Global Analysis Reveals 

Science News Daily summary of Majid Ezzati et al. in The Lancet

In the past 40 years, there has been a startling increase in the number of obese people worldwide -- rising from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in 2014, according to the most comprehensive analysis of trends in body mass index to date. The age-corrected proportion of obese men has more than tripled (3.2% to 10.8%), and the proportion of obese women has more than doubled (6.4% to 14.9%) since 1975. At the same time, the proportion of underweight people fell more modestly--by around a third in both men (13.8% to 8.8%) and women (14.6% to 9.7%).Although low and middle-income countries are impacted by this trend, it is important to note that excessively low body weight remains a serious public health issue in the world's poorest regions, and the authors warn that global trends in rising obesity should not overshadow the continuing underweight problem in the poorest countries.