Blog posts

Part 2: The economic and political case for Universal Health Coverage

By Dr. Matthew Harris, Senior Policy Fellow in Public Health, Institute of Global Health Innovation

I never really stopped to think why there was a need for a Universal Health Coverage Day.  Who could argue against the need for healthcare?  Who could argue against the common sense policy of equal access to health care, for equal need – irrespective of ability to pay?  However, despite many advances around the world in providing universal health care for whole populations, there are still many places where people suffer catastrophic financial burden as a result of relatively simple healthcare needs.

There have been many successes, but there is still a long way to go.

Part 1: The importance of Universal Health Coverage Day

Ensuring universal access to effective, quality and safe health care services, without the fear of financial hardship, is a basic human right.

Universal Health Coverage Day, commemorated each 12 December, is the anniversary of the first unanimous United Nations resolution calling for countries to provide affordable, quality health care to every person, everywhere.

The United Nations has adopted 17 sustainable development goals for eliminating poverty and building a more resilient planet. One of those goals includes providing universal health coverage.

Universal health coverage improves how health care is financed and delivered – so it is more accessible, more equitable and more effective.

World Toilet Day 2015: Making sanitation sustainable and safe

By Dr Michael Templeton, Reader in Public Health Engineering

Today, Thursday 19th November, is World Toilet Day. Sadly, it is estimated that 2.5 billion people around the world still lack access to an adequate toilet. Many others rely on only basic pit latrines which eventually fill up and can become unsanitary. Many countries failed to meet their Millennium Development Goal target for access to improved sanitation, and the recently stated Sustainable Development Goals continue to emphasise improving sanitation as a key objective towards global development.

Research at Imperial College London by the group of Dr Michael Templeton in the Environmental and Water Resource Engineering section of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is investigating ways to make sanitation more sustainable and safer.

The importance of the Access to Palliative Care Bill 2015

By Mark Steedman from the Institute of Global Health Innovation

The Access to Palliative Care Bill is to be given its second reading tomorrow (23rd October). While palliative care is widely viewed to be excellent in the UK, there are gaps in access to it, and this Bill hopes to eliminate these gaps.

The Bill’s stated aim is to “make provision for equitable access to palliative care services; for advancing education, training and research in palliative care; and for connected purposes”.

I’ve now worked in palliative care for two and a half years, and despite the knowledge I’ve gained and the progress I’ve seen, I’m still amazed at the reception I get when I speak at conferences.

World Food Day – Of abundance and scarcity

By Saba Fatima Mirza, Institute of Global Health Innovation to mark World Food Day 2015

When we talk about food, we must talk about its abundance and scarcity.

According to a recent United Nations report, about one-third of the world’s food, a shocking 1.3 billion tonnes, is thrown away each year. While some of this waste is a spinoff of the production phase of the food cycle, a higher portion of food is wasted at the consumption stage in high-income countries. This has to do with a combination of dietary habits and consumer behaviour.

Food supply is also abundant in high-income countries, and over eating has become a serious issue.

Photographs that change the world

By Student Challenges Audience Choice Award winners Jacob Levi, Amanda Stenbaek and Hiba Saleem-Danish

In Feb 2015, we took part in the IGHI Student Challenges competition and won the 3rd place prize of £1000, towards our Photovoice App Development Project.

Photovoice is a research method, which is already in use globally, whereby photographic data is collected and analyzed in order to gain insight into various health, social or community problems. Currently, the methodology is inefficient and expensive. Cameras are distributed to communities in and they’re asked to capture images, which depict a problem in their life, however, our concept was to modernize and improve the Photovoice methodology in a digital age.

Innovations in biotechnology

By Student Challenges Competition runner up Nicolas Kylilis

Nicolas won the £2,500 prize money last year for his inventive idea for a new platform technology called DaPHNI for developing point-of-care medical diagnostic devices. The DaPHNI platform has the potential to have a large, multifaceted positive impact on global health both in developed countries, at healthcare centres, or as home diagnostic kits, as well as in developing countries.

The problem

pregnancy test

In the past few decades, innovations in biotechnology have brought to the market small portable and affordable medical diagnostic devices that people can use to monitor their health, the so-called biosensors.

IGHI Student Challenge Competition: Reducing the Forces in Brain Surgery using Smart Surgical Instruments

By the winners of the 2014 Student Challenges Competition, Christopher Payne and Hani Marcus 

Brain surgery is challenging surgery. When brain tissue is handled incorrectly, the consequences can be catastrophic. The manoeuvres in brain surgery require dexterity, precision and careful force application, but even the best surgeons have limits. We humans are imprecise and we make mistakes. Robots, on the other hand, can operate beyond the physiological limits of a human. This is a central concept to many surgical robots: the perfect fusion of human and machine.

In brain surgery, the NeuroArm is the finest example of the assistive surgical robot concept.

A video memoir: Our gap year experience in the Gambia

By James Frater, Amos Bursary student

As part of my gap year, with the help of the Amos Bursary and Imperial College London, I was given the opportunity to spend 3 months in The Gambia. I assisted the PROLIFICA (Prevention of Liver Fibrosis and Cancer in Africa) project, where I was able to experience various laboratory procedures and resource-poor healthcare services.

I was given a thorough induction on laboratory etiquette and different laboratory practices, as well as training on how to handle laboratory equipment and the various biomedical samples. This meant I was confidently able to work in and navigate my way around the laboratory with a relatively good level of competence.

World Mosquito Day 2015: The burden of Malaria today

By Alison Reynolds and Dr Thomas Churcher from Imperial’s Malaria Modelling Research Group

World Mosquito Day (20th August) commemorates the discovery that mosquitoes transmit the parasite that causes malaria, made in 1897 by British doctor Ronald Ross.

A hundred and eighteen years later this transmission still continues, to some extent unabated. There have been huge successes in malaria control, most notably in recent years, though a child still dies every minute[1] from a disease which continues to ravage large swathes of Africa and Asia. Importantly these deaths are completely avoidable, as we have effective tools to treat malaria and stop people dying.