Luis A. Tellez Zellet@gmail.com Yale University, Postdoctoral Associate The John B Pierce Laboratory. Dept of Psychology. School of Medicine B.S. Basic Biomedical Research: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico City. Mexico Ph.D Biochemical Sciences: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico […]
The UK government committed to undertaking impact assessments of its policies on the health of populations in low and middle-income countries in its cross-government strategy "Health is Global". To facilitate this process, the Department of Health, in collaboration with the National Heart Forum, initiated a project to pilot the use of a global health impact assessments guidance framework and toolkit for policy-makers. This paper aims to stimulate debate about the desirability and feasibility of global health impact assessments by describing and drawing lessons from the first stage of the project.
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Der Spiegel recently noted that there were more cell phone contracts in 11 African countries than in the U.S. (>98 contracts per 100 population). In these nations, with half of their population being under 15 years of age, there may be more than 1 billion additional cell phone users by 2050. This vast penetration of mobile phones coincides with the globe’s largest population that lacks health care, both in regard to services and information about managing their conditions. For mobile health (mHealth) technology, emerging markets represent a huge opportunity. Low- or no-cost mHealth apps could greatly assist patients to preserving and improving their well-being.
Some readers may be surprised to learn that the use of apps, including mHealth, is already well developed in emerging countries. The Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health recently launched a program to advance mobile health research in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to foster the development and adoption of mHealth. Several examples of this effort already exist.
In Africa, Johns Hopkins University’s Electronic Mobile, Open-source, Comprehensive Health Application, or eMOCHA, has developed a platform that is being used by PEPFAR, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. It connects 17 health-care centers throughout Uganda to optimize HIV counseling, testing, treatment, and adherence. The program’s nerve center is at Mulago hospital in the capital city, Kampala, which has a group of local HIV experts and a strong technological base. The experts at Mulago are able to effectively develop and distribute tools, such as touchscreen data forms, to rural areas, improving treatment practices.
In Peru, 2 million out of its 30 million population (according to 2012 data) are diagnosed with diabetes, and half go untreated. Patients can enroll in C@reNet, a platform that sends text messages (SMS) with information on diabetic risk factors, lab test results, and reminders to patients to take their medications and show up for appointments. Nearly twice as many patients who received the SMS intervention took their meds according to their prescription compared to those who did not enroll.
In remote areas of northern Bangladesh, 75 percent of women give birth at home in the absence of skilled medical personnel. Most have had no prenatal care and are unable to go to a hospital during childbirth, facing complications that could be life-threatening without medical assistance. The mobile phone-based platform known as mCARE is a pregnancy and neonatal health information system that connects rural health workers and facilities with pregnant women and their newborns. It is currently being piloted in a study involving 800 pregnant women. MCARE sends automated reminders for antenatal, postnatal, and essential newborn care, notifies health-care centers of patients in labor and births, provides decision-making support for rural women and families, and notifies patients of available emergency health dispatch teams.
In both emerging and affluent nations, mHealth is improving health through the tracking and timely delivery of essential information to both patients and providers. Is this the new Médecins sans Frontières? Maybe not. But as Bill Gates said, “Because it’s new technology we should let 1,000 ideas blossom. I think we have to approach these things with some humility, though. I think we have to hold ourselves to some pretty tough metrics to see if we’re really making a difference or not. I think it’s always valuable to go back to ‘what is the key metric you’re trying to improve?’ Maybe the simplest one is the number of kids who die under the age of five…”
INTERED es una Organización No Gubernamental de Desarrollo (ONGD) que trabaja a través de la educación para la transformación de la realidad socio-económica actual y por la lucha contra la pobreza, las desigualdades y la exclusión
Imagine going to the doctor with an infection and being sent home with a course of drugs. Unknown to your doctor you actually have two infections. If you take the drugs will the other infection go away by itself? What if you take the drugs and the other infection gets worse? This quandary faces those treating patients with multiple infections.
A new study led by former University of Sheffield PhD student Dr Emily Griffiths, in collaboration with the universities of Edinburgh, Liverpool and Zürich, has taken a novel approach to understanding this problem, shedding light on how multiple parasites interact within humans.
The study compiled a list of many of the parasites that infect humans, another list of the parts of the body consumed by each parasite, and also information about how the immune system responds to each parasite. This information was used to construct a large network of multiple infections in humans - a bit like a food web of infections inside the human body.
Building this network revealed some previously unknown patterns, something that could pave the way for new treatment strategies which help tackle multiple infections. For example, groups of parasites often share similar parts of their host, and these groups are prime candidates for coordinated treatment.
Dr Griffiths, who carried out the research during her PhD in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield, said: "After studying the fascinating range of hundreds of different infections that can occur in the same person at the same time, we've shown that we could better treat patients if we know what parasites are eating inside our bodies.
"Our web has revealed the ways hundreds of parasites could live together, which means that we can develop new coordinated treatments that help fight more than one infection.
Like most sectors, pharma periodically discovers new buzzwords and hot topics which become inescapable for 2-3 years, and begin to sound like the answer to every question. At the moment, that buzzwords is 'big data' – but while the hype can...
Information about Apple’s new Healthbook app for iOS sheds light on what types of quantified self data you may be able to track on an iPhone. Some of that information, however, will have to come from external sensors and devices; perhaps an Apple smart watch?
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