A Wartime Christmas: The Nutrition Collection does Christmas

Often when we think of Christmas we associate it with indulgence, where we look forward to succulent roast dinners and copious amounts of sweet treats, but spare a thought for those who faced Christmas on rations.

From 1939 till 1954, the Home Front was subject to strict rationing on cloth, meat, and fuel, to name but a few. This meant the average civilian had to be creative with the meagre rations especially at Christmas. Fortunately, the Minister of Food produced recipe pamphlets including this one (GB 0809 Nutrition/06/05) made for Christmas in 1945. It provided recipes for Christmas Cake, Christmas Pudding, and, perhaps more ominously, Mock Cream and Marzipan. Although we, at LSHTM Archives, have tried various wartime recipes in the Great War Bake Off, we are yet to take the plunge with these…*

You can find more Ministry of Food recipe leaflets from our Nutrition Collection, just search our online catalogue or contact the to find out more.

*If you are adventurous enough to try one of these recipes, please tell us how it went.

New open access article by John Manton and Martin Gorsky, “Health Planning in 1960s Africa: International Health Organisations and the Post-Colonial State.”

The Health Systems team is pleased to announce its latest publication.

This article explores the programme of national health planning carried out in the 1960s in West and Central Africa by the World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Health plans were intended as integral aspects of economic development planning in five newly independent countries: Gabon, Liberia, Mali, Niger and Sierra Leone. We begin by showing that this episode is treated only superficially in the existing WHO historiography, then introduce some relevant critical literature on the history of development planning. Next we outline the context for health planning, noting: the opportunities which independence from colonial control offered to international development agencies; the WHO’s limited capacity in Africa; and its preliminary efforts to avoid imposing Western values or partisan views of health system organisation. Our analysis of the plans themselves suggests they lacked the necessary administrative and statistical capacity properly to gauge local needs, while the absence of significant financial resources meant that they proposed little more than augmentation of existing structures. By the late 1960s optimism gave way to disappointment as it became apparent that implementation had been minimal. We describe the ensuing conflict within WHO over programme evaluation and ongoing expenditure, which exposed differences of opinion between African and American officials over approaches to international health aid. We conclude with a discussion of how the plans set in train longer processes of development planning, and, perhaps less desirably, gave bureaucratic shape to the post-colonial state.

Manton, J., & Gorsky, M. (2018). Health Planning in 1960s Africa: International Health Organisations and the Post-Colonial State. Medical History, 62(4), 425-448. doi:10.1017/mdh.2018.41

View this article open access

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Witness seminar transcript now available: Health Policy-making in an Era of Reform: New Zealand’s Health System in the 1980s

The era of economic reform in the 1980s was also a pivotal moment in the history of New Zealand’s health system. There was a growing sense of the need for change, rethinking and policy innovation.  By 1980, 50 per cent of New Zealanders had some form of private health insurance – what did this mean for the universal health care system implemented in 1938? The new Labour Government coming to office in 1984 inherited the Area Health Boards Act from the outgoing National Government, with implications for organising health services. As well as the gradual establishment of area health boards from 1983, focal points of debate were the 1986 Health Benefits Review and the 1988 Gibbs Report (‘Unshackling the Hospitals’). Out of this ferment came the more radical health reforms of the early 1990s as well as the establishment of PHARMAC.  The 1980s was also a time when Māori were continuing to exert their right to tino rangtiratanga (sovereignty) and there was growing acknowledgement by politicians that this needed to be reflected in policy.

The aim of this seminar was to capture and record the experience of participants, including politicians, civil servants, the voluntary sector, health providers and activists, to illuminate key aspects of New Zealand’s health politics of the time. Given the ongoing salience of many of the issues debated at the time, we were concerned to identify factors that accelerated or inhibited major change. This seminar forms part of a wider project on the New Zealand health system and the UK’s NHS and the connections between the reforms proposed and implemented in both systems as well as the exchange of ideas.

The meeting was jointly convened by Prof Martin Gorsky and Dr Hayley Brown of the Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Prof Linda Bryder of the University of Auckland.

The transcript can be viewed here (PDF).

Please direct all comments and queries to .

It was supported by a Wellcome Trust grant 106720/Z/15/Z.

In the news – media highlights 2018

School research and expert comment have been making headlines around the world in 2018. Here’s some of our top stories from the year.

CONCORD-3

In January the Cancer Survival Group published CONCORD-3 in The Lancet; the largest and most up-to-date study of population-based cancer survival trends. Looking at five-year survival from diagnosis over 71 countries, researchers found that although cancer survival has generally increased, survival trends vary widely and there are persistent disparities between countries, particularly for childhood cancers.

In the UK, overall cancer survival was found to be improving, with several cancers showing substantial increases in five-year survival, including breast, prostate, rectum and colon.

The study is reported in more than 950 outlets around the world. Key UK coverage included The Times(£), The MirrorThe Sun and the Daily Mail. International coverage included ABC News and NPR. It was also featured on news bulletins including BBC World at One.

Tweets on the research from LSHTM generated a combined total of 16,291 impressions (number of times content was displayed to people) and support from Cancer Research UK (314K) and The Lancet (303K) helped increased its global reach.

MRC Units join LSHTM

In February MRC Units in The Gambia and Uganda joined LSHTM, forging two exciting new partnerships to boost research capacity into current and emerging health issues in Africa and throughout the world. The partnership built on the existing strong relationships between LSHTM and both Units, ensuring stronger scientific collaboration as well as new career opportunities for researchers.

The Lancet reported the new partnership and on social media tweets announcing the news generated over 10,000 impressions on Twitter.

Insecticide resistant treated bed nets

In April Mark Rowland published new research in The Lancet showing that a novel class of bed net that neutralises mosquitos’ ability to resist pyrethroid insecticide is shown to significantly reduce malaria infection in children.

The research was reported in more than 120 outlets around the world. Key coverage included Reuters, The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times (£), TRT World (Turkey), The Times of India,  and The Indian Express. Professor Rowland was also interviewed by broadcast media including BBC World Service Radio’s Newsday programme and BBC World TV Impact programme.

A series of tweets from the LSHTM account generated 81,548 impressions. The Daily Telegraph (2.47M followers) BBC Africa (2.12M), The Lancet (314K) and Thomson Reuters Foundation (69K) all tweeted the story. Facebook generated 182 reactions, comments and shares and reached 9,000 people.

Disgust can help us to avoid disease and infection

In June, Val Curtis published new research in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, on six common types of disgust in humans. Disgust has long been recognised as an emotion that has evolved to protect us from disease and infection; and for the first time the researchers broke disgust down into its component parts identifying six common categories that trigger it. These included rotting food, poor hygiene and skin conditions such as lesions or boils.

The research was covered by more than 450 outlets around the world. Key media coverage included the front page of The Times (£), the IndependentDaily MailThe Guardian, Daily Express, Metro and CNN.

Val was also interviewed by BBC World Service’s Health Check and BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about the research.

On social media, LSHTM tweets reached more than 38,000 people and posts on Facebook saw the story being shared with more than 8,000 people with over 150 reactions, comments and shares.

Heatwave deaths likely to increase

In July new research into heatwave-related deaths was published in PLOS Medicine. Co-led by Antonio Gasparrini, the study found that deaths from heatwaves are likely to rise steadily by 2080 unless climate and health policies and mitigation strategies are implemented.

The study was widely covered internationally, with pickup in more than 500 outlets including The Times (£),  ReutersDaily MailThe IndependentDaily MirrorEvening StandardMetroThe Washington Post and Business Insider.

On social media a tweet from the LSHTM account generated more than 8,000 impressions. Tweets from organisations such as ABS-CBS News (5.8M followers), Think Progress (844K), Euronews (294K), Climate Central (92K) and The MRC (46K) helped spread the news internationally.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

In October, new research led by Krishnan Bhaskaran into the link between BMI and risk of death was published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. The study showed that BMI is linked to risk of death from almost every cause.

The research was one of the lead health stories on the BBC Health page and Dr Bhaskaran was interviewed by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, BBC Breakfast and BBC News at One. It was also covered by CNNDaily ExpressNewsweek, The Sun and the Press Association newswire.

Dogs detect the scent of malaria parasite

In October, LSHTM, in partnership with Medical Detection Dogs, Durham University and MRC Unit The Gambia, found that dogs were able to scent malaria in samples of socks worn by children infected with the malaria parasite. The findings could lead to the first rapid and non-invasive test for malaria.

The research was picked up by more than 580 outlets internationally. Coverage included The Times (£), BBCEvening StandardGuardianTelegraphWiredExpressMirrorHuffpost and Smithsonian. Chelci Squires was interviewed by both BBC and Sky News about research and how the findings could contribute to the tackling malaria globally.

On Twitter the research made over 30,000 impressions. Partners including Malaria No More (252k) promoted the findings.

Women Leaders in Global Health (WLGH) conference

In November LSHTM hosted the second annual WLGH conference. The two day event brought together established and emerging leaders from across sectors and cultures to work towards gender equity in health leadership and to improve health for all. Nearly 900 participants from more than 70 countries and 80 nationalities heard from global health leaders in a wide range of talks and panel discussions. Topics ranged from mentoring, gender in emergency outbreak response and political leadership, to the #MeToo movement, media and new technologies.

The conference generated nearly 50 pieces of global media coverage. Key coverage included Professor Heidi Larson and Dr Joanna Liu appearing on BBC Woman’s Hour, an interview in the Indian Express with keynote speaker Dr Soumya Swaminathan (WHO deputy director) and a piece in Devex on mentorship – one of the key themes of the conference.

At the time of the conference a letter that Professor Peter Piot wrote about visa issues for WLGH18 participants made the front page of the Times (£). It was also covered by DevexBMJDaily MailThomson Reuters, and Times Higher Education (subscription required), including over 45 international news outlets.

There were nearly 15k tweets about WLGH (Jan to Dec 18); these would have potentially been seen by 50.6m people. The conference hashtag (WLGH18) was used 12.7k times and would have been seen by approximately 43.6m people. LSHTM tweets about the conference had a potential reach of 1.4m.

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NEW: MeSH terms for 2019 include Systematic Review as a publication type

As usually happens at this time of year, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) update the MeSH headings used to index their Medline/PubMed database. Full details can be found on the NLM Technical Bulletin, 425. Changes which may be of interest to LSHTM researchers have been highlighted below.

Changes to publication types

The NLM have made additions to their publication types, including adding a systematic review heading.

The new publication types which will be most useful for LSHTM researchers are:

  • Systematic review
  • Clinical Trial Protocol
  • Clinical Trial, Veterinary
  • Observational Study, Veterinary
  • Preprint

Usually the NLM does not retrospectively re-index existing Medline records with new MeSH terms. However, an exception has been made for 2019 and systematic reviews have been retrospectively indexed with the ‘Systematic Review’ publication type.

There are also new MeSH headings which index methodological papers about publication types, by indexing them under the following MeSH headings:

  • Clinical trial protocols as topic
  • Clinical trials, veterinary as topic
  • Forms as topic
  • Preprints as topic
  • Systematic Reviews as topic

There is also a new MeSH heading for Gray Literature.

Additions to MeSH headings

The following MeSH headings have been added. These will not be retrospectively applied, but will be added to any new papers.

  • Aggressive driving
  • Big data
  • Birth setting
  • Body weight trajectory
  • Built Environment
  • Burnout, psychological
  • Child labor
  • Clinical trial protocols as topic
  • Clinical trials, veterinary as topic
  • Correlation of data
  • Cyberbullying
  • Diagnostic screening programs
  • Disgust
  • Economic status
  • Ex-smokers
  • Facilities and services utilization
  • GRADE Approach
  • Healthcare-Associated Pneumonia
  • Host-Microbial Interactions
  • Implementation science
  • International health regulations
  • Internet Access
  • Medical countermeasures
  • Natural disasters
  • Negative results
  • Non-smokers
  • Nutrients
  • Population health management
  • Procedures and techniques utilization
  • Progression-Free Survival
  • Public Expenditures
  • Race Factors
  • Retention in Care
  • Road Rage
  • Smoking Cessation Agents
  • Sustainable development
  • Syndemic
  • Traffic-Related Pollution
  • Vaccinology
  • Workforce

For those interested in nutrition, there has been a number of dietary protein improvements, with new terms specifying the source of protein (fish, grain, meat, nut, poultry etc).

Changes to MeSH headings

The following changes have been made to MeSH headings. If you have used any of these terms in saved searches, I recommend you update your searches to the new terminology.

  • ‘Health manpower’ has been updated to ‘Health workforce’
  • ‘Slavery’ has been updated to ‘Enslavement’
  • ‘Slaves’ has been updated to ‘Enslaved Persons’
  • ‘Tobacco Use Cessation Products’ has been updated to ‘Tobacco Use Cessation Devices’
  • ‘Universal Coverage’ has been updated to ‘Universal Health Insurance

Help and support

If you have any questions about the implications of these changes to your searches or want to know more about using MeSH terms in your searches, please contact library staff through our pages on ServiceDesk.

06 – 12 December 2018

New LSHTM–led research finds that sex workers who experience repressive policing, including arrest and imprisonment, are three times more likely to go on to experience sexual and physical violence and twice as likely to have HIV and/or other STIs. Co-author Pippa Grenfell said:Decriminalisation of sex work is urgently needed, but other areas must also be addressed. Wider political action is required to tackle the inequalities, stigma and exclusion that sex workers face, not only within criminal justice systems but also in health, domestic violence, housing, welfare, employment, education and immigration sectors.”

The study was covered by The Guardian, CNN, Thomson Reuters Foundation and Daily Mail.

Heather Wardle is quoted in the Independent on news that members of the Remote Gaming Association, including William Hill, Ladbrokes and Bet365, have committed to stop advertising during live sports broadcasts. Heather said: “Gambling is heavily advertised and marketed online, through social media and through sponsorship – where it is very difficult to control who receives these messages. The system needs to be considered as a whole, but suggestions to stop adverts around football matches is a good starting place.”

Reuters cover LSHTM research which finds that breast cancer survivors are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, sleeping troubles and other mental health issues, compared with those who have not been diagnosed with the disease. Lead author Helena Carreira said: “We already knew that women experience substantial psychological distress around the breast cancer diagnosis and during the main treatment period. There is a need for greater awareness that anxiety, depression and cognitive and sexual dysfunctions are common after breast cancer, and that treatments are available.”

Will Nutland speaks to the Evening Standard about PrEP, which has led to big falls in diagnoses of HIV in current trials. Activists say the drug should be widely available and NHS funding provided for it; currently it is only available to those enrolled in the national trial. Will said: “What PrEP does is offer something new on an individual level as well as having a public health benefit. Individually it removes that fear and anxiety of getting HIV, and on a public health level it has had a dramatic effect on HIV acquisition.”

Liam Smeeth provides expert comment to The Times (£) on new research which concludes that patients should be given higher doses of statins to make up for the fact that they do not often take their medicines as prescribed. Researchers say the approach could prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths. Liam said: “The study highlights the importance of people taking their statins reliably over the long term, and the benefits of using the higher doses of statins now widely recommended in clinical guidelines.” Liam’s comments are also covered in the Daily Mail.

Hana Rohan is quoted in Scroll.in, an independent Indian news website, for an article health and technology and why sometimes, behavioural changes and putting patients first is more effective. Hana said: “Workers provide the magic of human interaction. They’re also a bridge between patients and the health system. Healthcare staff provide a two-way flow of information for those who struggle to reach a facility.”

On social media

This week’s social media highlight comes from the LSHTM Twitter page promoting LSHTM’s latest Research in Action feature – Gambling with our health: why the stakes don’t get any higher. The feature explores the world of gambling, how has it changed over time and how has it become a modern public health issue? We delve into the cost of gambling, looking at who is harmed the most and how smartphones and apps are contributing to the disturbing rise in gambling – particularly among young people.

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Bridging the Gap Trainee – First month at LSHTM Archives

Hello! My name’s Manasseh and this is my first blog post as a Digital Archives Trainee for LSHTM Archives, since starting 6 weeks ago.

So, as part of The National Archives Bridging the Digital Gap programme I will be at LSHTM Archives for 15 months learning what it means to work in an archive. I will be helping the department initiate their digital preservation strategy and crucially really finding out what it means to be a Digital Archivist Assistant in this ever evolving world of Digital technologies.

I’ve come from a Arts and Heritage background with a degree in Humanities with History, only in the last year and a half I have been trained in software development with a placement at The National Archives. I am very excited to use my skills and experiences as a Digital archives trainee. So far it’s been a really interesting couple of weeks; I’ve attended a 3 day basecamp, meeting all the other 7 trainees as part of the Bridging the gap programme at The National Archives and had a tour of their amazing repositories. I’ve made a very dry Trench Cake for the Archives annual Great War Bake Off. This event was so much fun, (though I am currently working on perfecting a more edible cake) and I’ve also represented LSHTM Archives on History Day at Senate House, where I got to take in all the interesting Libraries, Archives and publishers in London and beyond.

Some of the topics I’ve covered so far in my modules have been Archive Management and Digital preservation, with an insight into how the Domesday book has been digitally preserved, considering it’s 900+ years lifespan. I’ve also been introduced to the LSHTM’s Archive service cataloguing system, Calm and the user’s gateway to the fascinating items in the catalogue through Calmview.

I’m really looking forward to what the next several months will bring as I’ll have the opportunity to visit my fellow trainees organisations at King’s College London, The Wellcome Collection and UCL Institute of Education as well as taking every opportunity to learn as much as I can at LSHTM’s Archives.

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Director of Program Evidence, Measurement & Evaluation at the END Fund: Claire Chaumont

MSc Health Policy Planning and Financing (2011) alumna, Claire Chaumont tells us about studying at LSHTM and how her training at the school has been useful at key points in her professional life, including in her new job as Director of Program Evidence, Measurement & Evaluation at the END Fund.

Claire started her career working as a management consultant for hospitals in France, after getting a first master’s in International Business from Science Po Paris. However, she soon realized that she lacked some foundational knowledge in health. “It was frustrating to implement policies without fully understanding their impact. Also, I had always wanted to work in global health, but didn’t quite know how to enter this field. I knew LSHTM was a respected institution in this field, so I looked into their programmes and applied.” Claire told us that she had initially planned to apply for the MSc in Public Health for Development, but changed her mind at the last minute and applied to the double degree in Health Policy Planning and Financing with LSHTM and LSE instead. “This turned out to be a great decision.”

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it was not for this degree. During the summer of 2011, I moved to Mexico for my master’s dissertation. When I contacted the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico (INSP), I was put in touch with Dr. Gustavo Nigenda. He agreed to host me in part because he had himself studied in the same master’s programme some years ago. That was an amazing stroke of luck. I ended up working with the INSP for more than 4 years as a Research Director in their Centre for Health in Systems Research.” During that time, Claire coordinated a multi-million dollar research project on the costs of HIV interventions in Zambia, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Rwanda. Over the course of the project, Claire and her team trained teams to visit over 500 health facilities to collect data. The subsequent results were shared with governments and published widely. “I am very proud of how we managed to develop strong academic relationships across all five countries, including with individuals who I still collaborate 7 years after this project began. Organizing such a large scale survey was also quite a logistic feat. I am glad to have been a part of it.”

Claire told us that while studying an MSc at LSHTM, the biggest challenge she faced was how to deal with her own FOMO (fear of missing out). “The class schedules at LSHTM and LSE don’t quite overlap, which made it particularly hard to select classes in the second part of the year. I had to make a lot of hard trade-offs. Also the programme only being a year, it all went really fast. Looking back, I regret not engaging more with faculty.”

Claire formed good relationships while studying at LSHTM. “First, I joined a community of friends, not just colleagues. I have kept in touch with several of my classmates in the last 7 years since the programme finished, and got a chance to meet with many of them in places as varied as Cambodia, Geneva, the UK, the USA, Burundi and Mexico. These are people I feel privileged to have in my life, they have also been an invaluable source of support.” Claire advises current students to be curious and try new things. “Engage with faculty. Learn from your fellow students, they have so much to offer.”

Four years after graduating from LSHTM, Claire moved to Boston to do a Doctorate in Public Health at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “Again, I know my LSHTM master’s was a big plus for my application. The solid foundation I had gained in health policy and health financing was also useful when navigating what classes to take and what topic to focus on for my final doctoral project.” “When I got accepted in the new Harvard Doctorate in Public Health, I turned to three of my friends from HPPF to ask for their advice – they advised I go. It’s precious to have this.”

Last year, Claire joined the END Fund to work as their new Director for Program Evidence, Measurement and Evaluation. The END Fund is a recently created organisation working in raising and investing funds to help end neglected tropical diseases, specifically onchocerciasis, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths. “I’m there to help the organization grows its measurement and evaluation efforts, and further develop our capacity to measure the impact of our work and increase our reach. We’re still a young organization, so there are many ways in which we can better use our data for decision-making. I’m using some of my Master’s teaching on health policy and health financing on a regular basis. It’s not often that you can leverage analytical work towards such a concrete goal – ending preventable diseases in the next decade. It’s very exciting.”

In the long term, Claire hopes that her work can help developing strong health systems, which can really provide for everyone. But it’s not just about systems. “In the long run, I wish my work can play a small part in improving health governance and international relations at the global level, in a more respectful and inclusive way. I hope to be a small part of this.”

Feature image courtesy of Claire Chaumont. Image shows Claire (centre) with Karolina Tuomisto and Stephanie Kumpunen, two of her MSc friends

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Violence against women and girls – a human rights and public health problem

The 25th of November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the start of an annual campaign: The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. The international movement, which had its origins at the Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991, will see individuals and organisations calling for an end to violence against women and girls. This year’s theme is Orange the Word: #HearMeToo and the colour orange will decorate buildings and landmarks across the world, representing a brighter future free from gender-based violence.

Unfortunately that is far from today’s reality. For too long, violence against women and girls has been allowed by a patriarchal culture of stigma and silencing women. Despite recent campaigns such as #MeToo, #TimesUp and #Niunamenos, violence against women remains a global public health problem, requiring urgent and ongoing action. What these campaigns have achieved is drawing international attention to the problem so that gender-based violence is no longer invisible.

Globally over 1 in 3 women have experienced intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence; at least 38% of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners. This is not only a human rights issue, but a pandemic threat to the health of women, contributing to poorer physical, reproductive and mental health. Action is needed to protect the rights of women and girls to allow them to participate in society and maintain good health.

In order to understand and shed light on the magnitude of this problem, a landmark report was released by the World Health Organization (WHO), co-authored by the Gender Violence & Health and MARCH Centre researcher, Heidi Stöckl amongst other staff from the WHO, LSHTM and the South African Medical Research Council. The report was the first of its kind: a global systematic review of scientific data recording the prevalence of intimate partner and non-partner sexual violence against women.

The report shed an interesting light on how widespread violence against women and girls is, and like many public health problems, the biggest burden is on low- and middle-income countries. But not all regions are effected equally- prevalence estimates of physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence among women in relationships range from 24.6% (in the Western Pacific) to 37.7% (in South-East Asia). But no part of the world is exempt from this problem, with the prevalence in high-income countries estimated at 23.2%.

The framing of gender-based violence as a public health problem means we can delve into the far-ranging health impacts associated with it, which include

  • Sexual health (including the transmission of HIV and other STIs)
  • Reproductive health (including induced abortion, low birth weight and prematurity)
  • Mental health (including harmful alcohol use, depression and suicide)
  • Injuries (both non-fatal and homicides).

For example, women who have experienced physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their partners compared to those who have not are at least 16% more likely to have a low-birth-weight baby, almost twice as likely to experience depression, and, in some WHO regions, more than 1.5 times as likely to become infected with HIV.

As well as detailing these consequences, the report highlights the role of the health sector in primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. WHO has released clinical and policy guidelines on how individual health-care providers and the health sector at large can strengthen their response to this public health threat. For example, WHO doesn’t recommend laws requiring that cases of partner violence are reported without the woman’s consent, and instead suggest that providers inform women of their legal rights and offer to report if consent is given.

Women are no longer prepared to be silenced on this issue. We have worked hard to bring gender-based violence out of the darkness and it’s now getting the attention it deserves. But simply talking about violence against women is not enough – it is time to take action. Prevention and management programs need to be tested and scaled up. Through health-care and other sectors, we can all act to ensure women and girls aren’t denied a life free of violence- a basic human right.

Future WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific: Dr Takeshi Kasai

Public Health in Developing Countries (1999), Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (DTMH) (1997) alumnus, Takeshi Kasai told us about being nominated to be the next Regional Director for the Western Pacific, based in Manila, Philippines. WHO’s Western Pacific Region includes 37 countries and areas, stretching from Mongolia and China in the north, all the way to French Polynesia in the east, and Australia and New Zealand in the south. WHO works to support all 37 countries and areas to promote health, keen the Region safe, and serve the vulnerable.

 

Before he worked for WHO, Dr Kasai decided to study at LSHTM because the School allowed students to take units in very different disciplines, such as epidemiology, health economics, health policy and anthropology, which stimulated his curiosity. “The School also offered the renowned DTMH course, and I took that after my master’s course.” Dr Kasai also chose to study at LSHTM because he wanted to do something different to his colleagues. At the time, most of his friends went to the US to study, but very rarely the UK.

 

Dr Kasai told us that he gained valuable knowledge and skills from studying at LSHTM, but his time at the School was not without its challenges. “The volume of English reading overwhelmed me at first. The only way to overcome the challenge was to just continue to read and read, day and night, except on Friday nights!”

Following his time at LSHTM, Dr Kasai worked on infectious disease control in his native Japan, before joining WHO in 2000.

Dr Kasai says that the greatest relief in his career to date was when the SARS crisis was over in 2004. “Our region was the epicenter of the crisis, and we lost a colleague during the response. It was one of the most intense periods in my career. After SARS, we organised a series of discussions to identify lessons learned and eventually developed a framework called the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases, to guide countries and WHO on how to prepare for and respond to emerging infectious disease threats. We have been implementing this framework for more than a decade, and as a result, the system to detect and respond to infectious diseases has significantly improved.” Dr Kasai also recalls his time fondly serving as WHO Representative in Vietnam, from 2012 to 2014. “I was very proud to receive a medal from the Vietnamese government in recognition of my contributions, particularly to their health insurance reforms.”

In October 2018, Dr Kasai was nominated by WHO’s Member States in the Western Pacific Region to the next WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. His nomination will be considered by WHO’s global Executive Board in January, and if approved, he will take office as Regional Director on 1 February 2019.

In this role, Dr Kasai will lead WHO’s work in the Western Pacific Region, and hopes to help make the Region one of the safest and healthiest in the world. “I believe that we can do that with fullest cooperation from ordinary people, the community, leaders, partners, and of course WHO’s Member States. While many countries in our Region have experienced rapid economic development in recent years, there are emerging challenges, including unplanned urbanization, an increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs), ageing populations, the health impact of climate change and development, and increases in inequity, just to name a few. I will use all my knowledge, including what I gained at LSHTM, as well as my experience, management skills, and leadership to work with countries and support them in addressing those challenges.”

Dr Kasai told us that he received a lot of support from LSHTM graduates over the years, and he has tried to support fellow alumni wherever possible. His advice to current students is to “grow beyond your previous limitations. At LSHTM there are stimuli all around you. Not just the LSHTM knowledge base, but the faculty, classmates with different backgrounds, and of course, London.”

Images courtesy of Dr Takeshi Kasai.

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