By Dr Michael Templeton, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London
With World Water Day approaching on 22 March, research at Imperial College London is highlighting yet another example of why access to clean water is so vitally important to human health.
The research is seeking to quantify the role of access to clean water in reducing the odds of becoming infected with the neglected tropical disease schistosomiasis.
It has been estimated that 200 million people in developing countries are infected with the parasite causing this disease, which manifests itself in a range of symptoms, including enlargement of the liver and spleen, anaemia, increased risk of bladder cancer, exacerbation of the transmission of HIV and its progression to AIDS, and in extreme cases seizures.
By Francis Peel from Imperial’s Partnership for Child Development.
To celebrate International School Meals Day on the 5th March, schools from around the world share their experiences of school meals. It’s a fun way for school kids to learn what’s on their plates and on what children the other side of the world will be eating.
However given the depressing regularity of nutritional bad news focusing on obesity or malnutrition perhaps policy makers should be just as excited by school meals and the wider school health and nutrition movement which can provide countries with the tools to tackle this problem.
Today, 4th February, is World Cancer Day. Taking place under the tagline ‘Not beyond us’, World Cancer Day 2015 will take a positive and proactive approach to the fight against cancer, highlighting that solutions do exist across the continuum of cancer, and that they are within our reach.
The campaign will explore how we can implement what we already know in the areas of prevention, early detection, treatment and care, and in turn, open up to the exciting prospect that we can impact the global cancer burden – for the better.
World Cancer Day is a unique opportunity to raise awareness that there is much that can be done at an individual, community and governmental level, to harness and mobilise these solutions and catalyse positive change.
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.
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.
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.
By Sunila Prasad, Imperial Hub
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.
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%.  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.
By Professor Alan Fenwick OBE, Director of SCI (Schistosomiasis Control Initiative), Imperial College, London)
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.
By Professor Simon Taylor-Robinson and Professor Mark Thursz
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.