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Dr Gail Hayward discusses the outcome of the TOAST study, which aimed to better understand the role of steroids to treat sore throat.
© Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. The Alma Ata declaration's compelling vision of health for all will not be realised until we take community level prevention seriously, argue Luke Allen and colleagues.
© 2016 BMJ Publishing Group Ltd. A teenage girl was admitted to the paediatric assessment unit with non-specific abdominal pain that gradually localised to the right iliac fossa (RIF). She remained systemically well; investigations including blood tests, urine sample and abdominal ultrasound were inconclusive. Surgical opinion was sought and the decision was made to perform a diagnostic laparoscopy due to the ongoing pain. Laparoscopy showed no evidence of any significant pathology, and appendicectomy was performed following the routine practice. Numerous pinworms came out while the appendix was resected. The RIF pain resolved and the patient made a full post-operative recovery. A stat dose of mebendazole and amoxicillin were given and the immediate family was also treated. Enterobius vermicularis (pinworm) causes significant morbidity worldwide and has a high prevalence among children in the UK. It can be easily treated and prompt recognition based on clinical symptoms can potentially prevent unnecessary surgery.
© 2016 Ministry of Health, Saudi Arabia The global boom in premature mortality and morbidity from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) shares many similarities with pandemics of infectious diseases, yet public health professionals have resisted the adoption of this label. It is increasingly apparent that NCDs are actually communicable conditions, and although the vectors of disease are nontraditional, the pandemic label is apt. Arguing for a change in terminology extends beyond pedantry as the move carries serious implications for the public health community and the general public. Additional resources are unlocked once a disease reaches pandemic proportions and, as a long-neglected and underfunded group of conditions, NCDs desperately require a renewed sense of focus and political attention. This paper provides objections, definitions, and advantages to approaching the leading cause of global death through an alternative lens. A novel framework for managing NCDs is presented with reference to the traditional influenza pandemic response.
© The Author 2017. Background Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have slowly risen to the top of the global health agenda and the reduction of premature NCD mortality was recently enshrined in Target 3.4 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The unequal global distribution of NCDs is inadequately captured by the most commonly cited statistics. Methods We analyzed ‘WHO Global Health Estimates’ mortality data to calculate the relative burden of NCDs for each World Bank income group, including the ‘risk of premature NCD death’ based on methods in the WHO Global Status Report. We included all deaths from cardiovascular disease, all cancers, respiratory diseases and diabetes in people aged 30–69 years. Results Developing countries experience 82% of absolute global premature NCD mortality, but they also contain 82% of the world’s population. Examining relative risk shows that individuals in developing countries face a 1.5 times higher risk of premature NCD death than people living in high-income countries. Premature NCD death rates are highest in lower middle-income countries. Conclusions Although numbers of deaths are useful to describe the absolute burden of NCD mortality by country type, the inequitable distribution of premature NCD mortality for individuals is more appropriately conveyed with relative risk.
Socioeconomic status and non-communicable disease behavioural risk factors in low-income and lower-middle-income countries: a systematic review
© 2017 World Health Organization Background Non-communicable diseases are the leading global cause of death and disproportionately afflict those living in low-income and lower-middle-income countries (LLMICs). The association between socioeconomic status and non-communicable disease behavioural risk factors is well established in high-income countries, but it is not clear how behavioural risk factors are distributed within LLMICs. We aimed to systematically review evidence on the association between socioeconomic status and harmful use of alcohol, tobacco use, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity within LLMICs. Methods We searched 13 electronic databases, including Embase and MEDLINE, grey literature, and reference lists for primary research published between Jan 1, 1990, and June 30, 2015. We included studies from LLMICs presenting data on multiple measures of socioeconomic status and tobacco use, alcohol use, diet, and physical activity. No age or language restrictions were applied. We excluded studies that did not allow comparison between more or less advantaged groups. We used a piloted version of the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Group data collection checklist to extract relevant data at the household and individual level from the included full text studies including study type, methods, outcomes, and results. Due to high heterogeneity, we used a narrative approach for data synthesis. We used descriptive statistics to assess whether the prevalence of each risk factor varied significantly between members of different socioeconomic groups. The study protocol is registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42015026604. Findings After reviewing 4242 records, 75 studies met our inclusion criteria, representing 2 135 314 individuals older than 10 years from 39 LLMICs. Low socioeconomic groups were found to have a significantly higher prevalence of tobacco and alcohol use than did high socioeconomic groups. These groups also consumed less fruit, vegetables, fish, and fibre than those of high socioeconomic status. High socioeconomic groups were found to be less physically active and consume more fats, salt, and processed food than individuals of low socioeconomic status. While the included studies presented clear patterns for tobacco use and physical activity, heterogeneity between dietary outcome measures and a paucity of evidence around harmful alcohol use limit the certainty of these findings. Interpretation Despite significant heterogeneity in exposure and outcome measures, clear evidence shows that the burden of behavioural risk factors is affected by socioeconomic position within LLMICs. Governments seeking to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.4—reducing premature non-communicable disease mortality by a third by 2030—should leverage their development budgets to address the poverty-health nexus in these settings. Our findings also have significance for health workers serving these populations and policy makers tasked with preventing and controlling the rise of non-communicable diseases. Funding WHO.
© 2017 The Author(s). Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) (also known as socially transmitted diseases) were conspicuously absent from the Millennium Development Goals and seemed to miss out on the 'golden years' of health funding despite causing more death and disability than any other disease group worldwide. The share of 'development assistance for health' dedicated to NCDs has remained at 1-2% of the total since 2000. This level of funding is insufficient to attain the nine targets in the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Action Plan on NCDs. In 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals - which include the target of reducing premature NCD mortality by a third - were endorsed by 193 countries. Whilst this commitment is welcome, the same text stresses the primacy of domestic financing, which is currently dominated by out-of-pocket payments in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This paper presents the findings of the WHO Global Coordination Mechanism on NCDs financing working group. The group was convened to explore NCD financing options with an emphasis on LMICs. The main sources of available finance include taxation, loans, engagement with the private sector, impact investment and innovative financing mechanisms. There is a role for development assistance to increase in the interim as raising additional revenue from these sources will take time. In the medium term it may be appropriate for international NCD funding to remain low where LMICs successfully assume financial responsibility for preventing and controlling NCDs. Countries will have to manage blends of innovative and traditional funding sources, whilst finding ways to boost tax revenue for NCDs.