Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 10

Global health Related Abstracts

10 A Theoretical Framework on International Voluntary Health Networks

Authors: Benet Reid, Nina Laurie, Matt Baillie-Smith

Abstract:

Trans-national and tropical medicine, historically associated with colonial power and missionary activity, is now central to discourses of global health and development, thrust into mainstream media by events like the 2014 Ebola crisis and enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals. Research in this area remains primarily the province of health professional disciplines, and tends to be framed within a simple North-to-South model of development. The continued role of voluntary work in this field is bound up with a rhetoric of partnering and partnership. We propose, instead, the idea of International Voluntary Health Networks (IVHNs) as a means to de-centre global-North institutions in these debates. Drawing on our empirical work with IVHNs in countries both North and South, we explore geographical and sociological theories for mapping the multiple spatial and conceptual dynamics of power manifested in these phenomena. We make a radical break from conventional views of health as a de-politicised symptom or corollary of social development. In studying health work as it crosses between cultures and contexts, we demonstrate the inextricably political nature of health and health work everywhere.

Keywords: Development, Power, Global health, volunteering

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9 Cultural Collisions, Ethics and HIV: On Local Values in a Globalized Medical World

Authors: Norbert W. Paul

Abstract:

In 1988, parts of the scientific community still heralded findings to support that AIDS was likely to remain largely a ‘gay disease’. The value-ladden terminology of some of the articles suggested that rectum and fragile urethra are not sufficiently robust to provide a barrier against infectious fluids, especially body fluids contaminated with HIV while the female vagina, would provide natural protection against injuries and trauma facilitating HIV-infection. Anal sexual intercourse was constituted not only as dangerous but also as unnatural practice, while penile-vaginal intercourse would follow natural design and thus be relatively safe practice minimizing the risk of HIV. Statements like the latter were not uncommon in the early times of HIV/AIDS and contributed to captious certainties and an underestimation of heterosexual risks. Pseudo-scientific discourses on the origin of HIV were linked to local and global health politics in the 1980ies. The pathways of infection were related to normative concepts like deviant, subcultural behavior, cultural otherness, and guilt used to target, tag and separate specific groups at risk from the ‘normal’ population. Controlling populations at risk became the top item on the agenda rather than controlling modes of transmission and the virus. Hence, the Thai strategy to cope with HIV/AIDS by acknowledging social and sexual practices as they were – not as they were imagined – has become a role model for successful prevention in the highly scandalized realm of sexually transmitted disease. By accepting the globalized character of local HIV-risk and projecting the risk onto populations which are neither particularly vocal groups nor vested with the means to strive for health and justice Thailand managed to culturally implement knowledge-based tools of prevention. This paper argues, that pertinent cultural collisions regarding our strategies to cope with HIV/AIDS are deeply rooted in misconceptions, misreadings and scandalizations brought about in the early history of HIV in the 1980ties. The Thai strategy is used to demonstrate how local values can be balanced against globalized health risk and used to effectuated prevention by which knowledge and norms are translated into local practices. Issues of global health and injustice will be addressed in the final part of the paper dealing with the achievability of health as a human right.

Keywords: Justice, bioethics, HIV, Global health

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8 Influential Health Care System Rankings Can Conceal Maximal Inequities: A Simulation Study

Authors: Samuel Reisman

Abstract:

Background: Comparative rankings are increasingly used to evaluate health care systems. These rankings combine discrete attribute rankings into a composite overall ranking. Health care equity is a component of overall rankings, but excelling in other categories can counterbalance low inequity grades. Highly ranked inequitable health care would commend systems that disregard human rights. We simulated the ranking of a maximally inequitable health care system using a published, influential ranking methodology. Methods: We used The Commonwealth Fund’s ranking of eleven health care systems to simulate the rank of a maximally inequitable system. Eighty performance indicators were simulated, assuming maximal ineptitude in equity benchmarks. Maximal rankings in all non-equity subcategories were assumed. Subsequent stepwise simulations lowered all non-equity rank positions by one. Results: The maximally non-equitable health care system ranked first overall. Three subsequent stepwise simulations, lowering non-equity rankings by one, each resulted in an overall ranking within the top three. Discussion: Our results demonstrate that grossly inequitable health care systems can rank highly in comparative health care system rankings. These findings challenge the validity of ranking methodologies that subsume equity under broader benchmarks. We advocate limiting maximum overall rankings of health care systems to their individual equity rankings. Such limits are logical given the insignificance of health care system improvements to those lacking adequate health care.

Keywords: Healthcare Systems, Global health, Health Equity, International Health

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7 Intellectual Property Rights and Health Rights: A Feasible Reform Proposal to Facilitate Access to Drugs in Developing Countries

Authors: M. G. Cattaneo

Abstract:

The non-effectiveness of certain codified human rights is particularly apparent with reference to the lack of access to essential drugs in developing countries, which represents a breach of the human right to receive adequate health assistance. This paper underlines the conflict and the legal contradictions between human rights, namely health rights, international Intellectual Property Rights, in particular patent law, as well as international trade law. The paper discusses the crucial links between R&D costs for innovation, patents and new medical drugs, with the goal of reformulating the hierarchies of priorities and of interests at stake in the international intellectual property (IP) law system. Different from what happens today, International patent law should be a legal instrument apt at rebalancing an axiological asymmetry between the (conflicting) needs at stake The core argument in the paper is the proposal of an alternative pathway, namely a feasible proposal for a patent law reform. IP laws tend to balance the benefits deriving from innovation with the costs of the provided monopoly, but since developing countries and industrialized countries are in completely different political and economic situations, it is necessary to (re)modulate such exchange according to the different needs. Based on this critical analysis, the paper puts forward a proposal, called Trading Time for Space (TTS), whereby a longer time for patent exclusive life in western countries (Time) is offered to the patent holder company, in exchange for the latter selling the medical drug at cost price in developing countries (Space). Accordingly, pharmaceutical companies should sell drugs in developing countries at the cost price, or alternatively grant a free license for the sale in such countries, without any royalties or fees. However, such social service shall be duly compensated. Therefore, the consideration for such a service shall be an extension of the temporal duration of the patent’s exclusive in the country of origin that will compensate the reduced profits caused by the supply at the price cost in developing countries.

Keywords: Global health, Global Justice, patent law reform, access to drugs

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6 Global Health Student Selected Components in Undergraduate Medical Education: Analysis of Student Feedback and Reflective Writings

Authors: Kevin Jones, Harriet Bothwell, Lowri Evans

Abstract:

Background: The University of Bristol provides all medical students the opportunity to undertake student selected components (SSCs) at multiple stages of the undergraduate programme. SSCs enable students to explore areas of interest that are not necessarily covered by the curriculum. Students are required to produce a written report and most use SSCs as an opportunity to undertake an audit or small research project. In 2013 Swindon Academy, based at the Great Western Hospital, offered eight students the opportunity of a global health SSC which included a two week trip to rural hospital in Uganda. This SSC has since expanded and in 2017 a total of 20 students had the opportunity to undertake small research projects at two hospitals in rural Uganda. 'Tomorrows Doctors' highlights the importance of understanding healthcare from a 'global perspective' and student feedback from previous SSCs suggests that self-assessed knowledge of global health increases as a result of this SSC. Through the most recent version of this SSC students had the opportunity to undertake projects in a wide range of specialties including paediatrics, palliative care, surgery and medical education. Methods: An anonymous online questionnaire was made available to students following the SSC. There was a response rate of 80% representing 16 out of the 20 students. This questionnaire surveyed students’ satisfaction and experience of the SSC including the level of academic, project and spiritual support provided as well as perceived challenges in completing the project and barriers to healthcare delivery in the low resource setting. This survey had multiple open questions allowing the collection of qualitative data. Further qualitative data was collected from the students’ project report. The suggested format included a reflection and all students completed these. All qualitative data underwent thematic analysis. Results: All respondents rated the overall experience of the SSC as 'good' or 'excellent'. Preliminary data suggest that students’ confidence in their knowledge of global health, diagnosis of tropical diseases and management of tropical diseases improved after completing this SSC. Thematic analysis of students' reflection is ongoing but suggests that students gain far more than improved knowledge of tropical diseases. Students reflect positively on having the opportunity to research in a low resource setting and feel that by completing these projects they will be 'useful' to the hospital. Several students reflect the stark contrast to healthcare delivery in the UK and recognise the 'privilege' of having a healthcare system that is free at the point of access. Some students noted the different approaches that clinicians in Uganda had to train in 'taking ownership' of their own learning. Conclusions: Students completing this SSC report increased knowledge of global health and tropical medicine. However, their reflections reveal much broader learning outcomes and demonstrate considerable insight in multiple topics including conducting research in the low resource setting, training and healthcare inequality.

Keywords: Medical Education, Global health, undergraduate, student feedback

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5 Signs, Signals and Syndromes: Algorithmic Surveillance and Global Health Security in the 21st Century

Authors: Stephen L. Roberts

Abstract:

This article offers a critical analysis of the rise of syndromic surveillance systems for the advanced detection of pandemic threats within contemporary global health security frameworks. The article traces the iterative evolution and ascendancy of three such novel syndromic surveillance systems for the strengthening of health security initiatives over the past two decades: 1) The Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMED-mail); 2) The Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN); and 3) HealthMap. This article demonstrates how each newly introduced syndromic surveillance system has become increasingly oriented towards the integration of digital algorithms into core surveillance capacities to continually harness and forecast upon infinitely generating sets of digital, open-source data, potentially indicative of forthcoming pandemic threats. This article argues that the increased centrality of the algorithm within these next-generation syndromic surveillance systems produces a new and distinct form of infectious disease surveillance for the governing of emergent pathogenic contingencies. Conceptually, the article also shows how the rise of this algorithmic mode of infectious disease surveillance produces divergences in the governmental rationalities of global health security, leading to the rise of an algorithmic governmentality within contemporary contexts of Big Data and these surveillance systems. Empirically, this article demonstrates how this new form of algorithmic infectious disease surveillance has been rapidly integrated into diplomatic, legal, and political frameworks to strengthen the practice of global health security – producing subtle, yet distinct shifts in the outbreak notification and reporting transparency of states, increasingly scrutinized by the algorithmic gaze of syndromic surveillance.

Keywords: Algorithms, Surveillance, Global health, pandemic

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4 Use of Thrombolytics for Acute Myocardial Infarctions in Resource-Limited Settings, Globally: A Systematic Literature Review

Authors: Sara Zelman, Courtney Meyer, Hiren Patel, Lisa Philpotts, Sue Lahey, Thomas Burke

Abstract:

Background: As the global burden of disease shifts from infectious diseases to noncommunicable diseases, there is growing urgency to provide treatment for time-sensitive illnesses, such as ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarctions (STEMIs). The standard of care for STEMIs in developed countries is Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI). However, this is inaccessible in resource-limited settings. Before the discovery of PCI, Streptokinase (STK) and other thrombolytic drugs were first-line treatments for STEMIs. STK has been recognized as a cost-effective and safe treatment for STEMIs; however, in settings which lack access to PCI, it has not become the established second-line therapy. A systematic literature review was conducted to geographically map the use of STK for STEMIs in resource-limited settings. Methods: Our literature review group searched the databases Cinhal, Embase, Ovid, Pubmed, Web of Science, and WHO’s Index Medicus. The search terms included ‘thrombolytics’ AND ‘myocardial infarction’ AND ‘resource-limited’ and were restricted to human studies and papers written in English. A considerable number of studies came from Latin America; however, these studies were not written in English and were excluded. The initial search yielded 3,487 articles, which was reduced to 3,196 papers after titles were screened. Three medical professionals then screened abstracts, from which 291 articles were selected for full-text review and 94 papers were chosen for final inclusion. These articles were then analyzed and mapped geographically. Results: This systematic literature review revealed that STK has been used for the treatment of STEMIs in 33 resource-limited countries, with 18 of 94 studies taking place in India. Furthermore, 13 studies occurred in Pakistan, followed by Iran (6), Sri Lanka (5), Brazil (4), China (4), and South Africa (4). Conclusion: Our systematic review revealed that STK has been used for the treatment of STEMIs in 33 resource-limited countries, with the highest utilization occurring in India. This demonstrates that even though STK has high utility for STEMI treatment in resource-limited settings, it still has not become the standard of care. Future research should investigate the barriers preventing the establishment of STK use as second-line treatment after PCI.

Keywords: Cardiovascular Disease, Global health, resource-limited setting, ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, Streptokinase

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3 Violence against Children Surveys: Analysis of the Peer-Reviewed Literature from 2009-2019

Authors: Kathleen Cravero, Amanda Nace, Samantha Ski

Abstract:

The Violence Against Children Surveys (VACS) is nationally representative surveys of male and female youth ages 13-24, designed to measure the burden of sexual, physical, and emotional violence experienced in childhood and adolescence. As of 2019, 24 countries implemented or are in the process of implementing a VACS, covering over ten percent of the world’s child population. Since the first article using VACS data from Swaziland was published in 2009, several peer-reviewed articles have been published on the VACS. However, no publications to date have analyzed the breadth of the work and analyzed how the data are represented in the peer-reviewed literature. In this study, we conducted a literature review of all peer-reviewed research that used VACS data or discussed the implementation and methodology of the VACS. The literature review revealed several important findings. Between 2009 and July 2019, thirty-five peer-reviewed articles using VACS data from 12 countries have been published. Twenty of the studies focus on one country, while 15 of the studies focus on two or more countries. Some countries are featured in the literature more than others, for example Kenya (N=14), Malawi (N=12), and Tanzania (N=12). A review of the research by gender demonstrates that research on violence against boys is under-represented. Only two studies specifically focused on boys/young men, while 11 studies focused only on violence against girls. This is despite research which suggests boys and girls experience similar rates of violence. A review of the publications by type of violence revealed significant differences in the types of violence being featured in the literature. Thirteen publications specifically focused on sexual violence, while three studies focused on physical violence, and only one study focused on emotional violence. Almost 70% of the peer-reviewed articles (24 of the 35) were first-authored by someone at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were very few first authors from VACS countries, which raises questions about who is leveraging the data and the extent to which capacities for data liberation are being developed within VACS countries. The VACS provide an unprecedented amount of information on the prevalence and past-year incidence of violence against children. Through a review of the peer-reviewed literature on the VACS we can begin to identify trends and gaps in how the data is being used as well as identify areas for further research.

Keywords: Global health, implementation science, data to action, violence against children surveys

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2 Early Childhood Developmental Delay in 63 Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Prevalence and Inequalities Estimated from National Health Surveys

Authors: Jesus D. Cortes Gil, Fernanda Ewerling, Leonardo Ferreira, Aluisio J. D. Barros

Abstract:

Background: The sustainable development goals call for inclusive, equitable, and quality learning opportunities for all. This is especially important for children, to ensure they all develop to their full potential. We studied the prevalence and inequalities of suspected delay in child development in 63 low- and middle-income countries. Methods and Findings: We used the early child development module from national health surveys, which covers four developmental domains (physical, social-emotional, learning, literacy-numeracy) and provides a combined indicator (early child development index, ECDI) of whether children are on track. We calculated the age-adjusted prevalence of suspected delay at the country level and stratifying by wealth, urban/rural residence, sex of the child, and maternal education. We also calculated measures of absolute and relative inequality. We studied 330.613 children from 63 countries. The prevalence of suspected delay for the ECDI ranged from 3% in Barbados to 67% in Chad. For all countries together, 25% of the children were suspected of developmental delay. At regional level, the prevalence of delay ranged from 10% in Europe and Central Asia to 42% in West and Central Africa. The literacy-numeracy domain was by far the most challenging, with the highest proportions of delay. We observed very large inequalities, and most markedly for the literacy-numeracy domain. Conclusions: To date, our study presents the most comprehensive analysis of child development using an instrument especially developed for national health surveys. With a quarter of the children globally suspected of developmental delay, we face an immense challenge. The multifactorial aspect of early child development and the large gaps we found only add to the challenge of not leaving these children behind.

Keywords: Child Development, Global health, inequalities, Equity

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1 Care at the Intersection of Biomedicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine: Narratives of Integration, Negotiation, and Provision

Authors: Jessica Ding

Abstract:

The field of global health is currently advocating for a resurgence in the use of traditional medicines to improve people-centered care. Healthcare policies are rapidly changing in response; in China, the increasing presence of TCM in the same spaces as biomedicine has led to a new term: integrative medicine. However, the existence of TCM as a part of integrative medicine creates a pressing paradoxical tension where TCM is both seen as a marginalized system within ‘modern’ hospitals and as a modality worth integrating. Additionally, the impact of such shifts has not been fully explored: the World Health Organization for one focuses only on three angles —practices, products, and practitioners— with regards to traditional medicines. Through ten weeks of fieldwork conducted at an urban hospital in Shanghai, China, this research expands the perspective of existing strategies by looking at integrative care through a fourth lens: patients and families. The understanding of self-care, health-seeking behavior, and non-professional caregiving structures are critical to grasping the significance of traditional medicine for people-centered care. Indeed, those individual and informal health care expectations align with the very spaces and needs that traditional medicine has filled before such ideas of integration. It specifically looks at this issue via three processes that operationalize experiences of care: (1) how aspects of TCM are valued within integrative medicine, (2) how negotiations of care occur between patients and doctors, and (3) how 'good quality' caregiving presents in integrative clinical spaces. This research hopes to lend insight into how culturally embedded traditions, bureaucratic and institutional rationalities, and social patterns of health-seeking behavior influence care to shape illness experiences at the intersection of two medical modalities. This analysis of patients’ clinical and illness experiences serves to enrich the narratives of integrative medical care’s ability to provide patient-centered care to determine how international policies are realized at the individual level. This anthropological study of the integration of Traditional Chinese medicine in local contexts can reveal the extent to which global strategies, as promoted by the WHO and the Chinese government actually align with the expectations and perspectives of patients receiving care. Ultimately, this ethnographic analysis of a local Chinese context hopes to inform global policies regarding the future use and integration of traditional medicines.

Keywords: Integrative Medicine, Global health, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Emergent Systems, TCM

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