New threats to public health

As we move further into the 21st century, the world is faced with a number of new and old issues that threaten public health. The most obvious of these are infectious diseases, such as influenza, AIDS, TB and hepatitis, but there are others that attract less attention, such as the
lack of adequate primary care in many parts of the world and, perhaps still not properly recognised as a health issue, climate change. A recent report in The Lancet has called for a new initiative to highlight the threat to health of global warming, and quotes an expert in the field as saying “we are sitting at the tip of the problem – as we were with HIV 25 years ago”. Read more about this critical issue on
page 27.

Influenza A (H1N1), more commonly know as swine flu, has spread rapidly around the world, prompting the World Health Organisation to declare it a pandemic (see report page 22). With tens of thousands infected but only a few hundred deaths, experts are careful to point out that although the virus is now declared pandemic it does not mean it is more deadly. The issue of pandemic influenza preparedness took centre stage at the 62nd World Health Assembly in May (report page 24) and, due to the urgency of the situation, caused the Assembly to be shortened by several days so that delegates could return to their countries to focus their energies on the pandemic. Although mortality from this flu is low, we should beware of complacency.

Also in this issue we look at Qatar’s healthcare in transition, as it modernises facilities and invests in both medical education and research. There is a fascinating article on advanced breast microsurgery where, following mastectomy, the breast is reconstructed with abdominal tissue,
enabling re-innervation and allowing the woman to regain sensation in her breast. And with cancer in mind, you will also find interesting features on paediatric and cervical cancer.

As always, there is MEH’s comprehensive coverage of news and reviews from around the medical world, plus a good look at the German healthcare industry.

Brian Wilkie

(Jul-Aug 2009)



                                                                        Copyright © 2009 All Rights Reserved.