Category: Public health

Monthly update from the Institute of Global Health Innovation

Recent activities

The first Global Health Forum of the year took place on 20 October on Big Data Decision Support. The event discussed big data in medicine and healthcare and the best ways we can use what is available. Watch the full event here.

On 17 November we had our second Global Health Forum focusing on ‘Water and health’. Speakers included Dr Alexander Webb, Simon De Stercke, Dr Pauline Scheelbeek and Dr Michael Templeton covering a range in issues related to water such as salinity in drinking water and sanitation.

Latest IGHI Blog articles

Practitioner and patient-targeted interventions to address excessive antibiotic use

By Dr Olga Kostopoulou, Reader in Medical Decision Making and Professor Brendan Delaney, Chair in Medical Informatics and Decision Making at Imperial College London

Introducing ‘Exosonic’, a new device to combat pancreatic cancer

By Student Challenges Competition 2015/16 Audience Choice Award winners, Antonios Chronopoulos and Tyler Lieberthal

What is the role of social media in health policy?

By Sabine Vuik, Policy Fellow and Head of Analytics, Centre for Health Policy, Institute of Global Health Innovation

The State of Diabetes in 2016

By Professor Desmond Johnston, Vice Dean (Education) for the Faculty of Medicine atImperial College London

BIOTOPE (BIOmarkers TO diagnose PnEumonia)

By Dr John O’Donoghue, Senior Lecturer in eHealth & Deputy Director of Imperial’s Global eHealth Unit

Putting TB to the test: My journey so far

By Harriet Gliddon, winner of the IGHI Student Challenges Competition 2015-16

THET Annual Conference – Rethinking International Health Partnerships

By Hamdi Issa, PhD Candidate, Institute of Global Health Innovation

Director for the BDAU interviews the founder of the Open Data Science Conference in London

By Joshua Symons, Policy Fellow, Big Data & Analyitcal Unit, Centre for Health Policy

Write for us

We are always on the lookout for new bloggers.  If you would like to write for our blog, please get in touch with the IGHI Communications Manager, Jo, at

Nikita Rathod
Communications and Events Assistant

Data Science and eHealth Training at the Faculty of Medicine

The Global eHealth Unit at the School of Public Health is introducing a range of new training programmes in data science and eHealth for healthcare professionals expected to start in March 2016.
The Unit plans on delivering five new continuing professional development courses in 2016 as part of an ongoing partnership with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT Digital).

Students presenting during a face-to-face training
Students presenting during a face-to-face training

After organising two successful pilot courses and six student cohorts in 2015, the Global eHealth Unit is responding to the growing demand for data science and eHealth training by expanding on the initial courses and introducing new and advanced topics such as:

·       Exploring and generating data visualisation methods for healthcare data analysis
·       Practical implications of Information Governance policies
·       The potential for eHelath and mHealth to improve the quality of healthcare systems
·       Governance and management of eHelath and mHealth initiatives in healthcare organisations.
·       Improving education in health care through eLearning

Each of the five new courses will be delivered via blended learning which will include five weeks of online training and two days of face-to-face interactive workshop style training in London.
The face-to-face training will present students with an opportunity to explore the course concepts in depth, and consolidate learning.

Professor Azeem Majeed, Head of the Department of Primary Care & Public Health said: “We are very pleased to continue spearheading this initiative with our partners from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. After training over 60 students in our pilot courses last year, we are looking to continue to deliver training.”

Dr Josip Car, Director of the Global eHealth Unit added: “The healthcare sector is no exception to the growing demand for data scientists and IT professionals. With these courses we are looking to bridge the gap between these two fields in a unique and innovative way.”

See programme website – for more information about the courses, faculty and teaching schedule.

Boris Serafimov
Global eHealth Unit
Department of Primary Care and Public Health

PCPH Newsletter Feed: WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training, November 2015

Guest Presentation from Mr Shuhei Nomura, PhD candidate in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, ICL

From the left: Ahmed Almujil, WHO CC fellow, Mustafa El-Monstri, PHD student, Dr Sondus Hassounah, Teaching Fellow, WHO CC, Dr Alex Chen, PHD student, Mr Shuhei Nomura, Mrs Aisha Hamada, PhD student, Ahmad Al Mashrafi, PhD student
From the left: Ahmed Almujil, WHO CC fellow, Mustafa El-Monstri, PHD student, Dr Sondus Hassounah, Teaching Fellow, WHO CC, Dr Alex Chen, PHD student, Mr Shuhei Nomura, Mrs Aisha Hamada, PhD student, Ahmad Al Mashrafi, PhD student

As part of the Department of Primary Care and Public Health’s effort to develop and engage doctoral students and fellows to debate and discuss their work, the WHO CC holds weekly seminars. On Oct 21, 2015, Dr Alex Chen (PhD candidate), the seminar organiser, invited Mr Shuhei Nomura, PhD Candidate in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics – ICL, to share his research projects about Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster.

Mr Nomura delivered a presentation on current radiation levels in Japanese coastal cities (Minamisoma City and Soma City, 15-40km north of the nuclear plant), as well as key issues and challenges facing the residents of these cities. He presented data from the internal and external radiation screening programmes for residents of these cities – work in which he has been involved since it was launched in Japan in July 2011.

On 11 March 2011, Japan experienced an unprecedented catastrophe compounded by a radiation-release incident at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in the wake of the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which was later assessed as a Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale – the worst possible rating.

1st International Conference of Primary Care and Public Health & 3rd International Congress of Person Centred Medicine “Celebrating Primary Care Achievements: Seeing the person behind the patient”

The 1st International Conference of Primary Care and Public Health, 3rd International Congress of Person Centred Medicine, was held at Imperial College London, United Kingdom, from the 29th to 31st of October 2015.

The conference covered five central themes: Primary Care in the 21st Century, Ageing and Ageism, Children and Adolescences, Integrated Care, and Public Health in Primary Care. The programme comprised of keynote lectures, brief oral presentations and posters, featuring prominent figures as well as members of local communities from numerous global settings, including the UK, US, Middle East and Mauritius. Over 250 individuals attended from countries all over the world.

The importance of this conference was laid out in the opening remarks from Imperial College President Alice Gast together with Dr Derek Bell of NIHR CLAHRC NWL and His excellency Professor Ala Alwan Eastern Mediterranean Regional office for the WHO. The trans-boundary issues which threaten health warrant an international response, and events such as this conference are crucial for knowledge exchange and the planning of action.

A summary of the calls to action from the conference below and more information from each speaker can be found on the conference website

i. Establish a shared goal of improvement in the health of the population through person and people centered care, taking into account biomedical, socio-cultural, psychological and spiritual elements that form part of the whole person and the demography of diverse populations.
ii. Primary care and Public health professionals should create and enhance local links and build relationships with each other and local stakeholders.
iii. Prevention programmes at all levels should be fully integrated within primary care.
iv. Create health care databases and identify new data sets, creating from these a consolidated information system a platform for sharing and displaying local population health data that could be used by communities.
v. To create common research networks to foster and support the integration of primary care and public health to improve population health.
vi. To develop multidisciplinary educational programs developing the curriculum and clinical experience that ensures the integration of primary care and public health.
i. That primary care should be delivered within the social networks of each person, alongside the provision Social Care and recognized as being part of a complex adaptive system with many components that reciprocally influence one another.

Primary Care in the 21st Century

This theme was explored throughout the conference both in addressing the complexity of a world in which displaced people’s health needs require action and in widening our understanding of what it means to be healthy. From Professor Ted Epperly’s insight to the American Health model and how our spending on medical services is not in line with what maintains health, through to Professor Marisa Papaluca’s clear explanation of how Regulators are driving innovation in providing personalised medicines.

Ageing and Ageism

The fact that the world’s population is ageing and the need to account for increasing longevity a known fact, exploring attitudes to ‘casual ageism’ both in the elderly and the often overlooked adolescent group was integral to Professor Jon Snaedal’s talk. Professor the Baroness Ilora Finlay brilliantly summarised the importance of palliative care and highlighted the lack of focus and expertise which health systems provide for end of life care. The one time all people will require healthcare is at the time of death so it is important to focus on the end as well as the beginning.

Childhood and Adolescence

Sir Al Aynsley Green delivered a powerful and important talk on the most important significant and influential period of an individual’s life: childhood. With changing population demographics it is more important than ever to invest in children and nurture them taking inspiration from the holistic methods of childcare in Finland. The importance of person centred medicine was emphasised by Professor John Cox with particular regards to perinatal depression. This is an issue which can have enduring effects on families involved and it must be addressed in order to ensure every child has a good childhood.

Professor Mitch Blair, in his inspirational talk, stressed the need for doctors to pay attention to the beginnings of life and the crucial first years and seeing the patient in the wider context of family, school, immediate community circumstances.

Integrated Care

Professor Azeem Majeed raised important points about the need for research and innovation in primary care, and explained the proposals for family practitioner led and hospital led integration. Professor the Baroness Sheila Hollins spoke compassionately about the need for person centred medicine and the imperative for care givers to work with the patient and their family and loved ones, to see the person behind the disability. Using integrated care for the treatment of atrial fibrillation was informatively described by Dr Abdul-Majeed Salmasi.

Public Health in Primary Care

Building health systems on a foundation of primary care and public health is vital for universal health coverage and improved population health. Professor Salman Rawaf spoke passionately about how crucial primary care is in order to tackle the growing prevalence of non-communicable disease and for ensuring healthcare is family and person orientated. The importance of primary care in public health was stressed in a video message from Professor Ala Alwan, director of EMRO, who highlighted that primary care is at the core of the region wide priorities for EMRO, including health system strengthening, addressing non-communicable disease, promoting health security and building capacity.

The conference was attended by over 200 attendees who benefited from the event and enthusiastically spoke about the experience.

“On the occasion of conclusion of the 1st International Conference of Primary Care and Public Health which was held at Imperial College, London (29-31 October, 2015), I would like to express the highest of my appreciation and gratitude to the marvelous efforts exerted on your part to have this extremely valuable conference in the best shape with this outstanding and remarkable success.

My very cordial congratulation for the success of the conference which is considered a turning point in primary care and public health march at the global level.
The success of the conference was evidenced by the broad participation from every corner on earth, it was a global demonstration about primary care and public health.
The themes and the scope of the conference encompassed a lot of interesting issues that were so vital to primary care and public health & the presence of such group of elite scientists and experts of the field crowned these efforts and was a real added value.” Professor Tawfik Khoja – Director General Executive Board, Health Ministers Council for Cooperation Council.

“Although I could not participate fully from the beginning to the end; I am so pleased to have taken part of this rich intellectual and scientific activity. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you and your distinguished team on the quality of the technical as well as operational arrangements of the successful conference.” Dr Atef El Maghraby – Technical Lead, Health Systems, World Health Organization.

Advanced Leadership and Health Management training: 1-5 September 2015

Advanced Leadership and Health Management training: 1-5th September 2015

Chinese Guanghua Foundation, whose mission is to stimulate Chinese youth to contribute to China’s Science and Technology development through various programmes and awards, approached WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training in search for a bespoke Advanced Leadership for Healthcare course. The WHO CCentre delivered the training on 1st-5th September 2015 for 16 delegates. The course included visits to NHS trust Hospitals, Research hubs and local practices as well as a series of carefully selected exercises addressed at the needs of the participants.
The intensive 5-day course was the first in the series of the regular trainings for Chinese healthcare professionals and Hospital Managers. The next course is planned for April 2016.

Family Medicine in Sudan

Family Medicine in Sudan
Family Medicine in Sudan

The Republic of Sudan has made significant strides in developing its health sector, especially in terms of family medicine; the country aims to achieve universal health coverage as part of its post MDG 2015 agenda. In this regard, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) has embarked on an ambitious plan for the expansion of primary health care network and the national health insurance fund is drawing its agenda for universal coverage. As such, the WHO CC was asked by the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office for the WHO (EMRO) to technically support the finalization of the family medicine policy currently being developed by teams at the Sudanese FMOH and Public Health Institute (PHI). Professor Salman Rawaf and Dr Sondus Hassounah from the WHO CC were joined by Dr Hassan Salah (Technical Officer-EMRO) from the 15th-21st August in Khartoum to meet and assist the FMOH and PHI in that regard.

Indus Foundation Healthcare Excellence award

Indus Foundation Healthcare Excellence award

Congratulations to our Director, Professor Salman Rawaf for achieving the Lifetime Achievement Award in Healthcare Excellence from the Indus Foundation.
The Indus Foundation has initiated the Healthcare Excellence Awards – country’s most authoritative awards for the healthcare industry. Each of the Awards recognizes “excellence in medicine and healthcare” as manifested in the varied ways that may significantly impact the health and well-being of our citizens.

New starters

Heba Awadh from Oman started her PhD in October 2015 and will be focusing on Patient safety in the Gulf Region

Asma Alnuaimi from Qatar joined WHOCC on 1st September 2015 as a WHO CC Fellow. Her two-year training programme will focus on health promotion, health education, public health and epidemiology. As part of her Fellowship, Asma will also work on a research question of her choice.

Ahmed Sulaiman AlMujil joined WHOCC on 1st October 2015 as a WHO CC Fellow. His training will be centred on: medical education, research methodology and publication process, healthcare management.


WHO CC Fellow: Dr Saad Al Saad from Saudi Arabia finalised his fellowship on 23rd September 2015.

How buckets and digital gingerbread men are beating child malnutrition in Ghana

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over 44 million children under five are either overweight or obese. At the same time in low and middle income countries one in five children are stunted due to poor diets. Malnutrition’s triple burden of stunting, micro-nutrient deficiency and obesity is a fact of life for many of the world’s children.

The good news is that every school day 368 million children sit down to a school meal.

This is important because we know from extensive research that school feeding is an effective way to fight malnutrition and improve life outcomes.

Governments in sub-Saharan Africa are increasingly looking at ways to scale up sustainable school feeding programmes that source their food from local farmers. Known as Home Grown School Feeding these programmes can potentially act as a ‘win-win’ for local communities by providing free nutritious school meals to children whilst at the same time providing a market for the produce of local farmers.

One such country is Ghana, which through its Ghana School Feeding Programme provides free school meals to over 1.7 million children every school day.

To meet this challenge, Imperial College London’s Partnership for Child Development (PCD) in partnership with Dubai Cares is working with the government to pioneer a new approach that is tackling child malnutrition head-on by linking together nutritious school meals with community focused nutrition and hygiene training.

Gingerbread and buckets

Creating nutritionally balanced school meals using local ingredients is not an easy thing to do. This is doubly true when the children relying on school meals are from communities where food insecurity is high and malnutrition and anaemia are common conditions.

Menu-plannerTo help schools and caterers to develop nutritious school meals, PCD has launched a state of the art, easy to use web-based school meals planner which allows users to create and fully cost menus using locally available ingredients. By linking local market prices to the ingredients, the tool displays the actual cost of each meal to the user. With this information, programme managers are able to create accurate and realistic school meals budgets.

The strength of the tool lies in its simplicity; you don’t need to be a nutritionist to create healthy nutritionally balanced meals. Gingerbread children graphics to show how much a meal is meeting the recommended daily intake of nutrients as identified by the WHO.

The tool is designed to work in conjunction with ‘handy measures’ – everyday measuring utensils like buckets and spoons which PCD has calibrated to international standard units so that caterers can accurately recreate nutritionally balanced meals without having to buy expensive kitchen scales and equipment.

One such caterer is Stella who has just been employed by the Government to cook for the 100 children that attend the New Mangonese Primary School on the outskirts of Accra, Ghana’s capital city, “I’ve learnt a lot in terms of how to prepare food hygienically and measure it out accurately so I’m cooking the right amounts”.

Healthy Homes

Good child nutrition and hygiene starts at home. To ensure this, the programme is promoting healthier lifestyles by training 400 community based health and nutrition champions to take the healthy living message deep into their local communities.

Through community meetings, the distribution of tens of thousands of health posters and radio jingles, community leaders and parents are being taught simple and practical ways to ensure that their children stay healthy and happy.

As mother of two, Mercy Awonor from Accra, can attest these health messages are getting through to parents and children alike, “I always knew the importance of cooking my children healthy meals but I wasn’t always sure what food was good and what was bad. Now with all the posters around the village and the health messages on the radio I know the food I should be cooking. My children also know what is good for them”.

PCD’s Executive Director Dr. Lesley Drake says, “By coupling high tech digital resources such as the meals planner with low tech community engagement, integrated school feeding and health programmes are vital if governments are to tackle the malnutrition crisis facing the next generation”.

To find out more and to plan your own school meal visit

Follow HGSFglobal

Like us on Facebook Facebook/HomeGrownSchoolFeeding


Francis Peel
Partnership for Child Development
Imperial College London

WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training – June update

The Visit to Jabir Ibn Hayyan University in Najaf, Iraq

Professor Ali Mahmood Al-Shimmeri, the President of Jabir ibn Hayyan welcomed Professor Salman Rawaf, Director of P WHO Collaborating Centre for public Health Education and Training, Imperial College London on Wednesday 1st of April, 2015 at Jabir Ibn Hayyan University.

Jabir ibn Hayyan Medical University is one of the first specialized Universities in Najaf, Iraq. It encompasses all kinds of medical sciences. The Faculty of Medicine was established at the beginning of the academic year 2013-2014 involving 86 students who were centrally admitted, transferred or hosted from other universities. It is planned for the University to involve four faculties: Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Nursing in addition to a large university hospital and many other medical and research centres in various fields of medicine. The aim of the visit was to discuss the Hopeful Role of the Imperial College in Reviewing and Upgrading the Curriculum of the Faculty of Medicine to Meet the Highest Quality Standards. Professor Rawaf pledged to help and promised to exert his faithful efforts in order to achieve this mission.


First Who Ministerial Conference On Global Action Against Dementia

who dementiaOn 16 and 17 March 2015, WHO was hosting its first Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia. Ministers from around the world, as well as experts from the research, clinical and NGO communities, came together in Geneva for the first time to discuss the global problems posed by dementia.

The aim of the conference was to raise awareness of the socio-economic burden created by dementia, and to highlight that this burden can be reduced if the world collectively commits to placing dementia high on the global public health agenda.

The first day of the conference covered issues from research and drug regulation to care and human rights. On the second day, ministers discussed how to collectively move the global dementia agenda forward.

The conference was supported by the Department of Health of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The full meeting was webcast in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.


Celebrating Primary Care Achievements: Seeing the person behind the patient

Imperial College London and the International College of Person-Centred Medicine are pleased to announce the 1st International Conference of Primary Care and Public Health to celebrate Primary Care and Public Health Achievements.

Baroness Ilora Finlay, Baroness Sheila Hollins and Sir Al Aynsley Green are amongst the World and UK leaders in Primary Care and Public Health who will be leading the conference.

The five central themes are: Primary Care in the 21st Century, Ageing and Ageism, Children and Adolescents, Integrated Care, and Public Health in Primary Care. Discussions will cut across the four major disciplines of education, training, research and clinical practice.

The conference will be held at Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, from 29 to 31 October 2015.

Tickets can be purchased through our website and abstracts can be submitted by July 1 by emailing

Register here

Please visit the conference website for more information


RCGP Global Health Family Medicine: Global Impact Conference London

RCGP Global Health Family Medicine Global Impact Conference London

Professor Salman Rawaf, Director of Who Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training gave a presentation at the Conference organised by the Royal College of General Practitioners. The presentation: “A family physician for every person in the world: why we are failing globally” stressed that after thirty years of Alma Ata, the WHO World Health Report: Primary care – now more than ever, in 2008 re-focused the attention on the need of developing and strengthening primary care around the world. However, achievements since then are limited to patchy examples.

The talk also addressed the question why countries are reluctant or unable to develop their health system through primary care where every citizen has access to fully trained doctors who take care of health and healthcare needs. The number of trained family physicians needed in one of the WHO regions is projected to illustrate the magnitude of the tasks involved in developing primary care services that achieve the goal of universal health coverage. Guidance and suggestions for policy and decision-makers, health professionals, and civil society institutions will be offered, with the aim of maintaining and improving health to the highest of standards through effective primary care services.


Palestinian Family Medicine Visit to UK

The Department of Primary Care and Public Health (PCPH) at Imperial College London recently hosted a Palestinian Family Medicine delegation during their 4-day visit to the UK (4-8th March 2015). The visit was organised by the International Development of Family Medicine in Palestine (IDFMP), which is a collaborative initiative by UK GP academics. The aim of the visit was to orientate delegates to UK general practice and participate in the first RCGP Global Health ‘Family medicine: global impact’ conference in order to foster the development of a shared vision of family medicine training in Palestine. The delegates met Professor Salman Rawaf, Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training and there was lively discussion about shaping and developing family medicine in Palestine.


WHO CC work showcase at the Urology department educational seminar, 13 May 2015

At the request of Dr Alexandra Zachou — consultant urologist Imperial College Trust, Dr Sondus Hassounah, delivered a presentation at the Urology Department afternoon educational seminar showcasing the work the WHO CC undertakes. The presentation provided a brief overview of how the WHO CC was established and highlighted some of the projects the centre has been involved in since its designation by the WHO, with the support of the British Government, in 2007. The request to deliver this session stemmed from the urology departments’ interest in global health work and keenness to expose their faculty, staff and students to the broad application of public health and health system strengthening in a global context.


Systematic Literature Review Course

Systematic Literature Review Course

On Thursday 30th April 2015, our PhD students and fellows attended a one-day course on Systematic Reviews, given by Dr Holger Kunz. Through highly interactive and practical sessions, they learnt about why systematic literature reviews are so important in Public Health, how to develop a research question and a protocol, and the steps in conducting a systematic review – from literature search to selection of studies, quality appraisal, data extraction, meta-analysis and textual synthesis.


MPH student presentation at the Chevening Conference

Chevening ConferenceWhat is the link between Ebola outbreaks and Health Systems?

This is a question which needs to be asked in order to understand how this virus came to find its way around the globe in a matter of months. This topic must be scrutinised and assessed to help draft future recommendations for bridging current gaps in the health systems of vulnerable countries and eliminate the emergence of future outbreaks.

Dr. Haitham Shoman, who is studying his Master’s in Public Health at Imperial College London, prepared a poster on this subject and presented an overview at the Chevening Conference in Durham University on Diplomacy in the 21st Century that took place in Durham on the April 17th 2015. This was a fantastic opportunity to present such a cutting edge topic and educate high profile delegates, particularly those from non-medical backgrounds. His presentation drew a great deal of interest and questions from different participants. Support was given from Imperial College WHO CC. The dissertation he will be carrying out this summer, to be supervised by Professor Salman Rawaf, is centred on finding the link and grasping the roots of the problem, assessing information from a wide range of sources and reaching conclusions on how to mitigate such problems. A particular sense of urgency surrounds the spread of such diseases due to their potential to perpetuate poor health, poverty and inequality in some of the world’s most deprived countries. Living in the 21st century with globalisation and increased connectivity, countries with weak health systems should not be left behind as health is a fundamental human right and not exclusive to those living in the developed world. Strong health systems need to be established with proper communication and partnerships to avoid the progress of Ebola and avoid the emergence of new outbreaks.


Ela Augustyniak
WHO Collaborating Centre

Child Health Unit update

A study lead by Dr Sonia Saxena  showed fewer complications and readmissions at specialist centres compared with District General hospitals for children having appendectomy: Annals of Surgery. Listen to Sonia talk about this research on the Imperial Podcast.

Liz Koshy has published a paper in BMJ open showing that tonsillectomy operations for children who have not had recurrent throat infections provide very little benefit: BMJ Open

We published a paper in that showed a halving in 5 year perianal surgery rates among patients with Crohns Disease who had sustained treatment (over 18 months) with immunosuppressant drugs: Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

Dr Sonia Saxena MBBS MSc MD FRCGP

Clinical Reader in Primary Care
Department of Primary Care and Public Health