13 – 19 May 2017

A study co-led by Martin McKee revealing and ranking the quality and accessibility of healthcare around the world is widely covered. The Daily Telegraph quotes Martin: “The gap between what the UK achieves and what it would be expected to, given its level of development, is also wider than in other western European countries.”

The research is covered around the world by outlets including the Daily Mail, The Times (£), The Independent, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, Daily Mirror, Daily Star, El Mundo (Spain), The Times of India, AFP and via the Press Association to over 100 regional UK outlets.

Martin McKee is also interviewed by BBC Radio 4 You & Yours (from 32m35s) about the safety of e-cigarettes: “The real concern is their impact on the heart and the cardiovascular system. There’s now accumulating evidence that they do lead to changes in the arteries in particular, which may be hazardous in the long-term.”

Anne Hardy is a guest on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time, discussing the life of Louis Pasteur and his extraordinary contribution to public health: “Problems in hospital practice at that time was wound infections…what Pasteur had identified was that microorganisms were involved in the processes of decay and that’s what Lister clocks on to…and he begins to use antiseptic means to cleanse operating sites.”

Following the recent outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, The Sun quote both Peter Piot and David Heymann.

WIRED publish the video of Peter Piot’s talk at the WIRED Health event earlier this year, which describes HIV/AIDS as a forgotten epidemic and explains why the fight against the disease can’t yet be called a success story.

Mark Jit is quoted in The Guardian on the importance of adult vaccination and who should consider it: “One group is adults with conditions such as asthma or heart disease. They’re at higher risk of getting complications when they have diseases like flu, so they need to make sure they get their flu vaccines.”

Sally Bloomfield provides comment to Yours Magazine on the perception and practice of hygiene: “The reality is that we need to protect ourselves against infection while also restoring contact with microbes which are vital to our health.”

Jo Lines is interviewed by Healio on the history of drug-resistant malaria: “Until the mid-1980s, we were heavily reliant on chloroquine. Chloroquine is a fantastic drug, for both prevention and treatment. But once resistance developed, it spread quite quickly.”

The Guardian write on KalaCORE, an initiative set up by the School, Drugs for Neglected Diseases, MSF and Mott McDonald to tackle visceral leishmaniasis.

The School is referenced on KARE-11 (Minnesota, USA) on why mosquitoes are attracted to certain people.

BBC World Service Radio’s Health Check discuss global health governance with Chelsea Clinton and Devi Sridhar following their recent book launch held at the School.

Upgrade to Moodle 3.2

The annual Moodle upgrade to version 3.2 will take place on 7th August 2017. On this day the site will be accessible, albeit in ‘read-only’ mode, meaning that while students and staff will retain full access to most resources during the upgrade, no updates or changes will be possible.

Once the upgrade is complete, you’ll notice a few new features and changes to the interface. Moodle’s overview of the features is available as a video. In this post we provide a brief overview of some of the changes.

User interface

New Boost theme

Supporting the latest responsive design features.  Please note the School will not be adopting the Boost theme this academic year.

Improved Messaging and notifications

Message and notification icon on every Moodle page.

Moodle 3.2 Message and notification icon

User Experience

Use tours

Create step by step course guides or walkthroughs of various aspects of Moodle.

Improved content navigation

Locate course content within various course sections using the Navigation block.

Example of course content navigation

Graphing improvements

Design and interactive enhancements for report graphs.

Forum discussion locking

The ability to lock old forum discussions, stopping further replies.

Links

Full list of features new to Moodle 3.2

Up-to-date support and guidance documentation from Moodle.

Pablo Manrique wins 2017 British Council Social Impact Award

Image 1Pablo Manrique who studied an MSc in Medical Entomology (1996) and a MPhil/PhD in Infectious and Tropical Diseases (2000-2006) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has won the British Council Alumni Award 2017 for Social Impact.

The British Council Alumni Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of alumni and showcase the impact and value of a UK higher education. Award winners and finalists are leaders in their fields who have used their experience of studying at a UK university to make a positive contribution to their communities, professions and countries.

Pablo was selected for the Social Impact Award 2017 from a total of 1,200 alumni, many of who were nominated by the UK institution where they had studied. He received the Social Impact Award 2017 for his research in developing innovative interventions and improving methods of controlling mosquitoes to eradicate the transmission of dengue, chikungunya and Zika.

Pablo is currently a Biologist and a Professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán in Mexico. He studied his MSc at LSHTM with a scholarship from the British Council, and said that studying in the UK was one of the greatest achievements of his academic career.

Pablo said that LSHTM’s mission of improving health worldwide had a big impact on him from the first day that he started studying at the School, and this mission has permeated all his professional life ever since.

Congratulations Pablo!

Images courtesy of the British Council.

MSF Scientific Days 2017

By Sarah Venis from MSF, on behalf of the Scientific Day organisers in London.

scidayOn Friday 19 and Saturday 20 May, the 14th MSF Scientific Days programme will kick off in London at the Royal Society of Medicine. These events are followed by a day in New Delhi, India on May 27 and in Blantyre, Malawi on June 22. There are also screenings in MSF field projects, and linked events hosted by academic institutions in Australia and Argentina. The events are also broadcast online in English and French, and last year were watched by over 11,000 people from 125 countries. We are particularly happy that viewers from many of the countries where MSF works were able to join us.

So what are the MSF Scientific Days about? The aim of these events is to share the knowledge of what works in humanitarian medical programming with as wide and relevant an audience as possible. At the Scientific Days, MSF challenges itself and our partners to reflect on the evidence for the effectiveness of our activities in order to improve the care we deliver to our patients.

MSF1

In London, we have one day dedicated to medical research, and one focusing on innovation – the variety of methods, topics, and settings represents the diversity of MSF’s programmes. On day one, the research day includes presentations on MSF’s response to major conflicts in countries such as Yemen and Nigeria and a round table discussion on what we know about getting the best evidence from emergency settings. Our keynote speaker, Dr Jemilah Mahmood, will discuss the challenges involved in community engagement, which will be followed by a session on thinking about ways to improve the access to and quality of our medical programmes. A wide-ranging HIV and tuberculosis session covers new treatments, regimens, testing, and care. The day closes with a session on different approaches to disease prevention and elimination.

MSF2

Day two involves wider thinking around innovation, starting off by examining different approaches to managing processes and partnerships in our projects from the large (a multiplex fever diagnostic) to the smaller scale (designing an IV fluid bag holder). The keynote speaker, Professor Peter Redfield, will be taking the long view of how MSF engages with innovation and how innovation intersects with humanitarian principles. Two topic focussed sessions will explore how we use mapping and surveillance data, and the experience of planning and deploying technological solutions to supporting clinical care in field projects. The innovation day became part of the MSF Scientific Days 3 years ago, and the final session of the day includes a discussion on what we have learnt from these 3 years of presentations and discussions. The day closes with presentations on new approaches to tackling care delivery in complex settings or for neglected populations.

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We have over 30 posters submitted to the conference, and these can be viewed on our F1000 MSF Scientific Days pages, where slides and videos of the event will also be made available. We invite you to vote for the one you think is the most interesting, insightful, relevant, and high quality.

If you are not able to attend the events in person, we hope you can join our growing online audience, who are an integral part of the days. Please join us online, where you can ask questions in real time to the speakers using the #MSFsci hashtag – and help us make this a true conference without borders.

London, UK 19 & 20 May; New Delhi, India 27 May; Blantyre, Malawi, 22 June

Photos courtesy MSF.

Becoming emotional about public health

For me, writing history is an emotional process. Last week in the Wellcome Library archive I got the giggles reading an editor’s commentary on a draft of a safer-sex leaflet from 1987. The text was a 1987 Brook pamphlet on condom negotiation and HIV that had a wide print run and several editions. Although innovative, useful and informative, early drafts were a little clunky in places, using a cartoon strip to deliver part of the message on female empowerment and condom use. The cynical editor’s comments on the cartoon were not really that funny; what tickled me was how much they captured my own assessment of the cartoon section as, to quote the editor, a bit too ‘twee’.

love carefully

‘Nothing’s going to spoil this romance. ‘ Images from the 1987 Brook leaflet Love Carefully , Wellcome Archive, EPH 509 AIDS

The problem with a cartoon intended to promote condom use being twee, or so the editor implied, was that tweeness would make the document less likely to be persuasive to a savvy teenage audience. I’d be inclined to agree, hence my giggling[i], but why? What assumptions was the editor making about the teenage readership and their emotions? What do these assumptions imagine about the effectiveness of deploying particular emotions to persuade adolescents to behave one way or another? What did teenagers really feel when presented with pamphlets that suggested ‘a kiss and a cuddle’ were alternatives to sex?

As a historian, these are the sort of questions I’ve been asking about adult interactions with teenagers for years. I’ve always had trouble with the ‘what kind of historian are you?’ question whenever it comes up. In fact, when asked, I often shrug my shoulders, gesticulate dismissively, and claim not to be a proper historian at all, saying ‘I just like writing about scaring children’. Identity is multifaceted, situational and at least partly performative – or so I’ve argued for the past 5 years – so this is hardly surprising. It’s not an easy question for a historian of identity (which is sometimes what I say I am). My CV will tell you I’ve got an MA in cultural history and a PhD in the history of science, technology and medicine, but really, honestly, I’m here because I do like writing about scaring children. My MA thesis was, at its heart, about  adults’ decisions to frighten children so they’d be persuaded to fight for a nuclear free future, and more nebulously, a future free from structural violence, particularly class and gender inequalities. This project, which centred on the two 1980s young adult science fiction novels Brother in the Land and Children of the Dust,  convinced me that a more expansive engagement with this textual approach would work to find out how anxious adults attempted to represent HIV positive identities to children and adolescents, interrogating adult motives and asking what behaviours they were hoping to prevent or encourage in their young audience. My PhD, titled ‘[Re]inventing Childhood in the Age of AIDS: The Representation of HIV positive Identities to Children and Adolescents in Britain, 1983-1997’, drew on a large variety of children’s media to interrogate what adults hoped to gain from representing HIV positive identities to children and how they imagined their young audiences.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that I increasingly feel the label ‘historian of emotion’ offers the most helpful clues to exactly what kind of contemporary historian I am: both of these earlier projects were interested in the cultural work done by emotion and the production of deliberately emotive texts. But does this research really make me a historian of emotion? In a narrow sense, probably. However, while I was at pains to emphasise the creation, cause, interaction and context of emotions, I’m not sure I truly located the emotions I studied in a history beyond my narrow Thatcher-era scope. While some historians will fall into the trap of treating emotions as universal elements of the human experience, I fell into the opposite trap, treating emotions as such unique and ephemeral components of experience that they seemed to have no real history, only specificity, existing in a mere moment, the circumstances of which could be described, but only to create a silhouette of what my actors had personally been made to feel. But those feelings have a history, something which falls between the specific interactional moment of a single actor’s experience and the long duree.

In rewriting my PhD for publication as a monograph I’ll be revisiting ideas around adult anxiety and parental love, questioning the specificity of these emotions and looking for areas of continuity outside my time period through a more conscious emphasis on emotion. In paying more attention to the history of these emotions I hope to get more from the material by finding new questions to ask of it, adding some of the long duree to the emotional history I’ve already written.

And what else will I be doing for the next 15 months? As I’ve explained elsewhere, I’ll be working with each member of the Placing the Public in Public Health team to unpick the place of emotion in some specific areas of British post-war public health. I’ll join Gareth Millward’s project to look at vaccination and the public, Peder Clark’s to investigate the convergent history of heart disease and stress, Daisy Payling’s to investigate the emotional labour involved in health survey participation and Alex Mold’s to assess the use of emotion in public health posters. These collaborations completed, my time on Placing the Public in Public Health project will be rounded off with a conference themed around public health and emotion, past and present in July 2018. This will allow us to consolidate our work on public health and emotion as a group, but also to think about what other new opportunities an enagement with emotion can create.

Personally, I hope the next 15 months will allow me to think more deeply about the intimate connection between the history of emotion and public health and to question what it has to offer to the challenges specific to writing contemporary histories of sexual health and childhood.  In doing so, I’m hoping to find ways to write about scaring, comforting and empowering children which interrogate and historicise the emotions of the past while ensuring those who felt them have a voice in the history I write. Ambitious maybe, but I’ve got a good feeling about it all.

Hannah is always happy to discuss their research and can be contacted viaor twitter @sexhistorian

Hannah Elizabeth, 16 May 2017

 

[i] I’m far from the only historian to get the giggles in the archive, or indeed in reaction to other methods of primary research. The Wellcome Witness Seminar conducted to mark Brook’s 50th anniversary is a fascinating listen interspersed with laughter, providing both an informative couple of hours of history and also a lovely example of oral history as an innately emotional methodology. For those interested, the Southern Oral History Programme’s Press Record podcast on emotion and oral history provides a moving discussion on the challenges the emotional nature of this methodology presents.

ESPEN’s NTD website goes live

Global Trachoma Mapping Project supported ESPEN have put online NTDs maps for 37 African countriesThe World Health Organisation’s Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN)* have launched a new open-access AFRO NTD portal mapping the prevalence of the five most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in 37 African countries.

Launched at the Geneva NTD Summit in April 2017 the online portal provides prevalence maps and data downloads for the following diseases; lymphatic filariasis (LF), onchocerciasis, soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis and trachoma.

The platform draws on data provided by the participant countries and is targeted at health ministries and their stakeholders. The portal enables them to make informed decisions on how best to design public health initiatives to control and eliminate NTDs.

London Applied & Spatial Epidemiology Research Group (LASER) through its Global of Atlas of Helminth Infections have been providing technical support for the development of the maps featured on the portal.

On announcing the launch Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, said, “As scaling up mass drug administration for the over 600 million people who need preventive chemotherapy remains one of the biggest challenges in the region, this NTD portal illustrates WHO AFRO’s bold ambition to take focused and unwavering action”.

Highlighting this collaborative approach for development of the ESPEN project Dr Magda Robalo, Director of the Communicable Disease Cluster at the WHO said, “The NTD portal illustrates our strong commitment to quality data. We will continue to work with all our country partners to collect quality data and continuously improve the functionality and accessibility of the platform.”

Support for the complete mapping of LF, onchocerciasis, soil-transmitted helminths and trachoma in Africa is provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The portal’s trachoma maps draw on data collected from the  by DFID and USAID.

Further Reading

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on ESPEN’s NTD website goes live

Elizabeth Pisani: The accidental epidemiologist

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Never happier than when I’m running Stata. Credit: Paul Lakatos

Public Health Consultant and Author, Elizabeth Pisani told us about how she stumbled upon a career in epidemiology.

“I never actually intended to come to the School. I had been working as a journalist in India, Indonesia and China, and I got very interested in the interaction between politics and population policy. I wanted to learn more about it, and signed up to do a masters in development studies at SOAS. But when I walked around campus on the first day looking for a lecturer who shared my interests, they all looked completely blank. Finally, a professor in the geography department said: “You need to be across the street, studying demography at the School of Hygiene.” So I walked across to the Centre for Population Studies, and knocked on the door.

Miraculously, I was allowed to join a Masters course in Medical Demography. It was pretty scary; my first degree was in Classical Chinese at Oxford and there were only six of us in the whole university studying it. At LSHTM, I suddenly found myself in a big lecture theatre full of incredibly smart people from all over the world, and they were all speaking a language I didn’t understand. Though I’d been writing about cholera epidemics and emergency medicine for the world’s leading news agency, I didn’t even know the difference between prevalence and incidence. The School opened the door to a whole new world for me, and though I had to work triple-time to get up to speed, I enjoyed the constant discoveries of that year more than any of my studies before or since.

There were downsides to coming from such a different background. I struggled at first with the formulaic way in which science papers are written, and was surprised that so little attention was paid to the political and cultural contexts which shape the use of scientific evidence.  Many of my colleagues in the student body came from government departments in low-income countries, and they were all too familiar with the constraints on the use of evidence. Yet back then, some of the lecturers seemed to think that a good p value published in the New England Journal was enough to change policy.

In retrospect, I am very grateful for the focus on strong analytic and technical skills because it forced me to learn things I’d have been scared to even try to grasp. It also enabled me to morph into a technical role working with UNAIDS, WHO and others to try to improve the surveillance methods and systems that help us understand (and ultimately prevent) the spread of HIV. Now, when students ask for my advice about which courses to take, I tend to stress the nerdier modules, on the basis that it’s hard to learn about a Poisson regression by reading the newspapers, talking to people and observing what’s going on around you. Politics and culture you can absorb more easily that way.

I came back to LSHTM to do my PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology from 2003-2006. Since then I’ve been self-employed. I run a tiny public health consultancy called Ternyata (the name comes from an Indonesian word that implies that things don’t always turn out the way you expect).  But I’ve continued to work closely with many LSHTM researchers, and also sometimes lecture at the school. I never fail to be impressed by the breadth of experience and interests among the students.

Though I teach a course in scientific publication for mid-career researchers in middle income countries, I spend a lot of my own time exploring ways of communicating data that go beyond journal papers and policy briefs. I’ve written a mass-market book about epidemiology with the unlikely title The Wisdom of Whores, and am currently working on Song of Contagion, a crazy collaboration with a multi-ethnic orchestra in which we’re trying to turn inequity in global health into music. If you’re in London in June and curious about how that might happen, come and see the show http://songofcontagion.com.

I think the moment that underlined for me how useful it can be to talk to different audiences was when I got an e-mail from a Swedish MP. He said he had seen a TED talk I had given about why people take risks with their health, and noticed how strongly the data supported providing clean injecting equipment to drug users. After asking his aides to verify the data, he persuaded his party to support harm reduction programmes. “Next week, we open the first needle exchange in Stockholm”, he wrote. To me, that was better than a first-author paper in The Lancet and a whole handful of citations.

Lately I’ve shifted away from field studies into more policy-related work, especially looking at how the research process itself can be strengthened, so that findings are more likely to be translated into healthier and happier lives. However, I have a secret yearning to get back to number-crunching. Though my skills have atrophied horribly, I’m never happier than when I’m running Stata. That’s something I’d never have guessed during my first, terrifying medical statistics lecture nearly 25 years ago”.

Feature image – Mapping gay brothels in Jakarta. Credit: Philippe Girault

Would you like to share your experience of studying at the School on the Alumni Blog?

Whether you did a short course, studied distance learning, graduated last year or years ago, we would love to hear from you!

Get in touch with the Alumni Office at 

6 – 12 May 2017

Jimmy Whitworth is interviewed by ITV News at 10 following the Brazilian government declaring the end of Zika as an emergency: “We remain in many parts of the world rather vulnerable to outbreaks of this sort because the health systems are simply so weak.”

Jimmy also talks to CNN about a study that shows young people with HIV may now have near normal life expectancy: “Overall, the results of the study are very good news […] but I think it’s important to recognize the global aspect here. Africa has the heaviest burden of the disease where this is a challenge of early diagnosis and treatment.” The article generates coverage in over 50 regional US outlets.

Sally Bloomfield provides comment to the New York Times Well blog on the impact hand sanitizers have on disease transmission: “[For example] London airport bathrooms are usually fine because they are well designed to make sure we wash our hands properly — and dry them properly.”

Stephen Evans comments for BBC News on research that suggests commonly prescribed painkillers increase the likelihood of heart attacks if consumed in high doses: “The two main issues here are that the risks are relatively small, and for most people who are not at high risk of a heart attack, these findings have minimal implications.” Stephen’s comments also appear in The Guardian, and via CNN to over 75 regional US outlets.

Andrew Bastawrous is interviewed by BBC Radio 4 In Touch discussing Peek, an enterprise to support healthcare providers to screen people for eye disease: “For example in schools, rather than sending an optician to the school, we send the app to a teacher who can do an accurate vision screen and refer a child.”

David Heymann is quoted by Nature on the support available to the Democratic Republic of Congo following the current outbreak of Ebola in the country.  

Reuters Video report on the results of the WOMAN Trial. The video generates coverage in The Straits Times, Singapore.

Aspen Public Radio interview Ngozi Erondu on improving global public health systems. “I think public health is essential to everyone and we all depend on it, even in wealthy countries, we just don’t notice it because it’s working well.”

El País (Spain) report from the Annual Global Forum on Urban Resilience & Adaptation, citing Paul Wilkinson on the need to go beyond simply measuring exposure but quantifying the real impact.

Flemish magazine Humo have named Peter Piot as the world’s most influential Belgian as reported by De Redactie.

LSHTM Careers Ambassadors

Written by Jonathan Carrington, Employer Liaison Project.

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has recently started a Career Ambassadors project. The goal our project is to improve and expand the awareness of the diverse mix of career opportunities available to the current LSHTM students.

Our team consisting of Ranya Mulchandani, Diogo Martins, Brian Wong and myself have spent many long nights sending email after email to organisations of tens to tens of thousands of people. We have been carrying out informational interviews with a diverse mix of organisations ranging from UNICEF to Unilever, gaining information on specific recruitment rounds, required skills and experience, job roles available and working cultures.

The information we are collating will add to the labour market information available to LSHTM students and we want to highlight non-clinical roles as the skills developed in your masters are desired in a variety of industries.

We have tried to conduct interviews with a diverse mix of organisations of various sizes to demonstrate the huge variety of career paths your master’s program provides you with. Our resource has information on clinical, management and support roles that may be of interest to the current year group.

Several of our interviews have been conducted with LSHTM alumni, as students can trace a direct career path from the School to an institution of interest to the student.

For more information or if you would be happy to be interviewed in support of this project please email me at: .

Image provided by LSHTM Careers Ambassadors.