Blog posts

Celebrating the first ever Universal Health Coverage Day: 12.12.14

Today, the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) will join 500+ organisations around the world to launch the first-ever Universal Health Coverage Day. This historic coalition will mark the anniversary of a landmark UN resolution urging all countries to provide universal access to healthcare without financial hardship.

We believe that no one should fall into poverty because they get sick and need healthcare. Universal health coverage (UHC) is essential for making progress against challenges like HIV, cancer, Ebola, dementia, diabetes and mental health issues – and for creating a fairer, more resilient society.

Universal healthcare coverage is one of the seven forums at 2015’s World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), which takes place in Doha from 17-18th February and launched by the Qatar Foundation.

Tackling HIV associated Tuberculosis this World AIDS Day

By Professor Robert Wilkinson, Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow in Clinical Tropical Medicine, Director of the University of Cape Town Clinical Infectious Diseases Research Initiative (CIDRI) and Professor in Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London

Today, 1st December, is World AIDS Day, an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with the disease and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), since the beginning of the epidemic, almost 78 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 39 million people have died of HIV.

WaterAid UK / International World Toilet Day

Today 36 prominent international health and development experts including representatives from WaterAid, The World Medical Association, the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Amref Health Africa,  Bangladesh Medical Association, British Medical Association, Commonwealth Medical Association, Global Health Council, Indian Medical Association, International Confederation of Midwifes, Nigerian Medical Association, and the Royal College of General Practitioners amongst many others, have called for an end to a crisis that has claimed the lives of over 10 million children under the age of five since the year 2000.  

In an Open letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, the signatories, representing over 620,000 health professionals globally, highlight the desperate waste of life caused by people not having access to a basic toilet.

Raising awareness about female genital mutilation: What can we do to help?

By Sunila Prasad, Imperial Hub

Guest speaker Ms Hoda Ali

On 16th October, Imperial Hub hosted its inaugural talk of The Challenge Series – a series of seminars aiming to inform students on key issues.

Imperial Hub was honoured to host special guest speaker and FGM survivor, Ms Hoda Ali, and Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at Imperial, Dr Naomi Low-Beer, to offer their insights into the increasingly prevalent issue of female genital mutilation (FGM).

With Hoda as the first speaker, the audience was immediately immersed into the world of FGM through the perspective of a survivor. Having experienced FGM at the age of 7 in her native Somalia and then forced to flee her war-torn country, she finally settled in the UK to work as a sexual health nurse and FGM campaigner.

How Innovation Can Help To Reduce the Future Economic Burden of Mental Health Disease

By Sarah Jones and Naomi Radcliffe in support of World Mental Health Day

A recent survey by the WHO found that amongst its member countries, the lifetime risk of mental health illness was between 18 – 36%. [1] Yet the vast majority of people are undiagnosed or not receiving treatment, especially in low-income countries. The World Economic Forum estimates that between 2011–2030, mental health conditions will be responsible for the total loss of $16.2 trillion to the global economy. We can compare this to five other non-communicable diseases – cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer and diabetes – which together will account for the loss of $30 trillion by 2030.

SCI needs to expand coverage to help treat 100 million children a year against bilharzia (schistosomiasis) and worms.

By Professor Alan Fenwick OBE, Director of SCI (Schistosomiasis Control Initiative), Imperial College, London)

A schistosomiasis worm

Schistosomiasis is a type of infection caused by parasites that live in fresh water, such as rivers or lakes, in subtropical and tropical regions worldwide.  It is also known as bilharzia.

The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) at Imperial College London supports Ministries of Health and Education in 16 countries to deliver medicines to treat people infected with schistosomiasis and three intestinal worms. The medicines are donated by various pharmaceutical companies, Merck KgGA (praziquantel), GSK (albendazle) and Johnson and Johnson (mebendazole), and for the most part, the targets are school aged children.

Prevention of Liver Fibrosis and Cancer in Africa

By Professor Simon Taylor-Robinson and Professor Mark Thursz

The problem

Liver cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide, with an estimated annual mortality rate of 500,000 with a survival rate of less than 5%.

Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver as a result of continuous, long-term liver damage) is the main risk factor for the development of liver cancer in developing countries, such as in West Africa, where viral hepatitis B is the major cause of cirrhosis.

Generally, late presentation of patients with liver cancer results in poor prognosis, due mainly to insufficient and lack of affordable screening tools for early tumour detection.

A tidal wave of cancer

By Jeremy Laurance

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.

IGHI Student Challenges Competition: Diagnosing Schistosomiasis: My Journey so Far…

Gabrielle Prager, Winner of IGHI’s 2013 Student Challenges Competition guides us through her journey throughout the contest and the next steps for her research project.

This is the problem:  In 2011, 243 million people required treatment for schistosomiasis. 28.1 million were reported to have received that treatment. Schistosomiasis is a neglected tropical disease.  What is it? It is a blood dwelling fluke. How is it treated? Mass Drug Administration with Praziquantel has been the mainstay of most treatment programmes. Uganda was the first country in Africa to initiate a national control programme coordinated by the Ministry of Health with technical and financial support from the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI).

Next Generation: Global Health Innovators

John Chetwood, winner of  the 2012 IGHI Student Challenges Competition tells us how he has put the £2000 prize money to good use.

Detecting a Silent Cancer

With the hepatologists at Imperial College London, I had been in rural Thailand investigating urinary biomarkers of ‘cholangiocarcinoma’ or simply put, cancer of the bile ducts. Though cholangiocarcinoma is thankfully rare in developed countries, it is showing worrying increases in incidence, and has shown little improvement in survival over the last 15 years.  There is still little hope of cure unless detected early and nearly everyone who develops this cancer will die from it.