By soon to be Imperial medical student, Hannah Lewis
I will start my medical course at Imperial in October 2015 and I was lucky enough to spend 5 months in Gambia at the beginning of the year, gaining insight into medical research in resource-poor settings. It is the smallest country in West Africa, and it is where the British Medical Research Council (MRC) has a big research unit. I worked closely with the Prevention of Liver Fibrosis and Cancer in Africa (PROLIFICA) group, who are looking at the link between hepatitis B and liver cancer.
Initially, I was concerned that, with no previous medical training, I would not be able to learn as much from the experience as fully-fledged medical students.
Looked at in one way, the warning from the World Health Organisation of a tidal wave of cancer sweeping the globe over the next 20 years is good news. Cancer is a disease of old age – it means more of the world’s peoples are surviving long enough to get it.
But while it is good to grow old (rather than die young) no one wants to die of cancer. Many cancers still kill people before their time. And cancer imposes an immense and growing burden on families, health systems and states. Hence the WHO’s alarm call.
The organisation estimates the worldwide burden will rise by 70 per cent from 14 million cases in 2012 to 24 million in 2035, much of it borne by poorer countries.
Richard Smith of the UnitedHealth Chronic Disease Initiative and Adjunct Professor at IGHI talks about our NCD event at the Royal Society on 4th October and how we can make progress in global health as a whole.
Global health 1.0 was called tropical medicine and was primarily concerned with keeping white men alive in the tropics. Global health 2.0 was called international health and comprised clever people in rich countries doing something to help people in poor countries. It had Cold War overtones. Global health 3.0, which is still the main manifestation of global health, is about researchers from rich countries leading research programmes in poor countries.