31 May 2023 is World No Tobacco day. While much has been written about the harmful effects of using tobacco and public health interventions to combat this, the theme this year moves to the growing of tobacco, hence the slogan “grow food, not tobacco”, a theme which dovetails with the need for sustainable food production in order to guarantee food security in the context of global change.
The campaign objectives are laid out succinctly on World Health Organization’s campaign web-pages: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-no-tobacco-day/2023.
From Wednesday 31 May there will be a display of books from our collection on various aspects of the tobacco epidemic, including some research pamphlets from current and former LSHTM authors.
Step 2: you will be emailed with the Zoom link 30 minutes before the session starts.
Who should attend: MSc students (both ‘intensive’ & ‘distance learning’ programmes) who did not have literature searching sessions scheduled in your MSc Programme timetable: please sign up these sessions. MSc students who have already attended an Effective Literature Searching training session, and want to have a refresher session, you are also welcome to sign up.
NB: if you have attended a literature searching session as part of your MSc Programme, you might prefer to re-watch the recording of that session on your Programme’s Moodle page, or the MSc Public Health recording on the Library Moodle page.
These sessions are repeated on each day listed above. Just choose whichever session works best for your timetable / timezone.
The refresher sessions cover: Constructing a literature search strategy. – Developing search concepts, search terms & building your search. – Selecting search concepts & keywords/search terms. – Choosing the right resources to search (OVID Medline will be the main database used in these sessions). – Using Boolean logic to structure an effective search. – How to use search tools (including truncation, wildcards and proximity searching). – Using subject headings: what are they? Why do you need to use them? How do you include them in your search strategy? – Using search filters and limits. – Running your search & transferring it across databases. – Finding full text – what if LSHTM library doesn’t have what I need? – Planning & managing your information – get organised & save time!
Comments from previous years’ attendees: “really great course” “very good and very helpful” “it’s fab!”
If you cannot attend any of the above sessions, a recording of one session will me made available on the Library Moodle page, where you will also find: – recordings of full Literature Searching sessions. – presentations on grey literature and other aspects of the searching process. – plus self-teach mini-modules that you can work through in your own time.
When my sister died over the Christmas period last year, I was left with a sense of guilt at the memory of our last encounters. She had asked constantly for me to accompany her to the theatre to watch The Lion King, and I refused every time due to other things going on with my life. After her death, my refusal to see this show with her caused me to detest myself for having been so intractable and impatient with her. The feelings of guilt were so overpowering that it affected my health, particularly by disturbing my sleep. As a result, I suffered headaches and muscle tension in my waking hours. I couldn’t concentrate enough and often found myself at a loss in public spaces forgetting what and why I was doing there. What brought me back to forgive myself was having a friend to talk to. Someone who did not judge, who listened and who wrote, “If you knew what was going to happen you would have behaved differently. Life always gets in the way of our dealings with people. So, you shouldn’t feel bad. If you’d known, you would have behaved with more kindness.”
Mental health is defined as our state of being, what we feel and how these feelings are affected by our life’s experiences such as our work environment, personal encounters, and our physical health. It defines how we cope with these factors in our daily lives. To mitigate the effect of poor mental health it is prudent to have a good support system available informally or professionally, through work, charities, and helplines.
For Mental Health Week, there are a sample of books that we have in our collection that may assist.
The Red Cross is part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, with Red Cross and Crescent teams working in 192 countries. Using combined resources they respond together in the event of disasters and emergencies. Red Cross Week ties in with World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. This is an annual celebration of their Movement’s work across the world, which is celebrated on 8 May each year.
Today over 100 million people are displaced across the world, including 10 million from Ukraine making the work they carry out even more vital.
Since the conflict in Ukraine began, staff and volunteers across the movement have provided support to over 14.5 million people impacted by the crisis so far. This includes:
Healthcare: providing access to medical care as well as clean water.
Immediate and long-term support: helping communities to get through the winter months and ensuring there is longer-term cover.
Bringing families together: supporting evacuations and getting people to safety.
Whilst here in the UK their teams have:
Supported 50,000 refugees arriving from Ukraine.
Given £2.7 million in emergency financial assistance.
Distributed 19,000 SIM cards so people can stay in touch with their loved ones.
Their mission is to help people prepare for, deal with and recover from a crisis – wherever and whoever they may be. There are a number of ideas on the website on how to raise money to help them deliver essential services in the UK and overseas – including their work to support people in crisis and reunite separated families Red Cross Week | British Red Cross.
The Library collections contain print and online resources on the topic of disaster management. Resources can be found by searching in the Library’s search tool, Discover. Print books on disaster management can be found in the Barnard Room, shelf mark SQD. A selection of books from this section are on display in the Library’s Reading Room
Globally, glaucomas are the most frequent cause of irreversible blindness, caused by a build-up of fluid in the eye. Africa has the highest prevalence of the condition and highest prevalence of blindness due to glaucoma. Rates in Sub-Saharan Africa are predicted to nearly double by 2040.
Irreversible blindness caused by glaucoma can be prevented by reducing intraocular pressure through daily eye drops, eye surgery, or laser treatment. Currently timolol eye drops are the most affordable and commonly available treatments to reduce intraocular pressure.
Research conducted in Tanzania by the International Centre for Eye Health in partnership with the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) demonstrated that laser treatment has the potential to transform the management of glaucoma in Africa.
The research is the first randomised controlled trial exploring the use of the laser treatment, Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT), for patients with glaucoma in Sub-Saharan Africa. The team found that SLT successfully reduced eye pressure to normal levels (up to 18 or 21mmHg) in significantly more patients after one year (61% of eyes) compared to the standard treatment of timolol eye drops (31% of eyes).
The study also considered the affordability of SLT, finding that in spite of the initial cost of the laser equipment, for hospitals dealing with high volumes of glaucoma patients the treatment could be offered at a similar price as the annual supply of eye drops.
Dr Heiko Philippin, Clinical Research Fellow at ICEH and study lead, said: “Glaucoma requires life-long treatment and follow-up to save a person’s sight, which can be very challenging in many settings. Currently, most people are treated with eye drops but many struggle with taking them regularly or accessing new bottles, for example due to cost or distance to the nearest clinic.
“These study results are exciting because they show that we can treat glaucoma more successfully with a one-off or occasionally repeated outpatient laser treatment to reduce eye pressure at least for one year, compared to the most commonly used eye drops in lower income regions. We are grateful to all participants and our colleagues for their commitment and hope that these findings will improve glaucoma care for many people at risk of becoming blind.”
Timolol eye drops are subject to erratic application, systemic and local side-effects, and high long-term costs due to the need for daily life-long treatment in settings where health insurance options are rare. The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health called for research into cost-effective glaucoma interventions, especially those that are applicable in low- and middle-income countries.
Dr William Makupa, Head of Ophthalmology at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, said: “In our setting glaucoma is diagnosed late, and some of the patients after some time decide to ignore or just stop using eye drops. If we can establish an alternative effective means of arresting the disease, we would bring about a positive impact on the quality of life of these patients.”
SLT is already widely used in high-income countries. During the treatment, approximately 100 laser spots are applied to the tissue at the base of the cornea which is responsible for draining the fluid from the eye.
While previous trials have compared SLT and eye drops, this is the first to do so with predominantly advanced glaucoma patients and the first to compare SLT with timolol. The study also reflects the typical spectrum and associated challenges of glaucoma care in this region.
Of the patients enrolled, both eyes were included in the study if they met the trial criteria – 382 eyes in total. 100 patients (191 eyes) were treated with timolol eye drops and 101 patients (191 eyes) with SLT. After one year, data from 339 eyes were analysed. The eye drop treatment was successful in 31.3% (55/176 eyes), while SLT was successful in 60.7% (99/163 eyes).
Professor Matthew Burton, Director of ICEH, said: “This result is very important for improving glaucoma treatment in low- and middle-income countries. Poor eye health has a knock-on effect on poverty, employment and development. With the number of people affected by glaucoma set to rise, studies such as these are crucial for identifying solutions that can tackle the challenge and improve the lives and livelihoods of those in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. Showing a significant improvement over the standard treatment for glaucoma is a real breakthrough for treating the disease in areas that historically struggle with treatment and adherence.”
World Book and Copyright Day is a celebration to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. Each year, on 23 April, activities take place all over the world to recognize the scope of books, linking the past and future, and creating a bridge between generations and across cultures. On this day, UNESCO and the international organizations representing the three major sectors of the book industry – publishers, booksellers and libraries, select the World Book Capital for a year to maintain, through its own initiatives, the impetus of the Day’s celebrations.
Cities designated as UNESCO World Book Capital undertake to carry out activities with the aim of encouraging a culture of reading and diffusing the Network’s values in all ages and population groups, both within and beyond national borders. World Book Capitals: Guadalajara (Mexico) 2022; Accra (Ghana) 2023, Strasbourg (France) 2024.
23 April is a symbolic date in world literature. It is the date on which several prominent authors, William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died.
For 2023, Indigenous Languages will be the message UNESCO will focus on. Last year saw the start of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-32) and it is a UN priority to uphold and promote linguistic diversity and multilingualism. Indigenous and local languages feature as part of the World Book Capital Network Charter, and the Charter recognizes a less rigid concept of ‘the book’, i.e., acknowledging various forms of literature (including oral traditions).
In UNESCO’s own words, “By championing books and copyright, UNESCO stands up for creativity, diversity and equal access to knowledge, with the work across the board – from theCreative Cities of Literature network to promoting literacy and mobile learning and advancing Open Access to scientific knowledge and educational resources. With the active involvement of all stakeholders: authors, publishers, teachers, librarians, public and private institutions, humanitarian NGOs and the mass media, and all those who feel motivated to work together in this world celebration of books and authors, World Book and Copyright Day has become a platform to rally together millions of people all around the world.”
The Library’s Reading Room currently has a display featuring books which focus on publishing, literacy, copyright, and mass media communication. Browse our collections and access resources by using the Library’s online search tool, Discover.
In order to achieve universal health coverage and ensure no one is left behind, different indicators need to be monitored when recording who is receiving eye health services. One of these indicators is socioeconomic position (SEP), which assesses the economic and social resources of people in a society. Lower SEP has been shown to be associated with higher prevalence of vision impairment and worse access to services, and there have been recent calls by the WHO for vision and eye health data to be disaggregated by equity dimensions.
A major source of population eye health data is from rapid surveys, and a new study from ICEH has assessed several SEP indicators for inclusion in The Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) methodology, the most commonly conducted rapid vision survey worldwide.
Currently, age and gender are the only equity dimensions routinely recorded in RAAB, while a disability module is optional. Including a measure of SEP would be useful to monitor the eye health status of an underserved group in a population and plan services accordingly.
This study aimed to assess whether one objective, asset-based measure and three subjective measures of SEP demonstrated inequality in eye health outcomes for a population from the 2019 Gambia National Eye Health Survey, a recent comprehensive cross-sectional survey which included a RAAB.
The research looked at a subset of 4,020 adults 50 years and older from a nationally representative sample of adults 35 and above in The Gambia.
The measures that this study assessed were:
Objective: EquityTool – a short asset ownership and household characteristics questionnaire to define relative wealth categories in a country
Subjective questions asking people to evaluate:
Food adequacy – whether food available to their household is adequate for their needs
Income sufficiency – whether their household income is sufficient for their needs
Economic ladder – to place themselves on a ‘ladder’ between the poorest and richest in their community
The study found there was no pattern of inequality in eye health outcomes across the categories of the objective asset measure and of the economic ladder question.
The food adequacy measure however showed inequality in eye health across people with different levels of food availability. Almost a quarter of participants aged 50 years and older reported less than adequate household food, and people who self-identified in this bottom group experienced worse eye health outcomes than those in the middle group.
Similarly, income sufficiency also showed a pattern, with people identifying in the bottom group for income having significantly worse indicators of sight loss.
These subjective, experience-based SEP measures may capture less obvious aspects of social status and allow research participants to be centred in the process of identifying inequality.
Therefore, food adequacy and income sufficiency may be good measures to include in future RAAB survey development, and further research pilot testing the acceptability of the questions is recommended.
The inclusion of SEP measures within data collection for eye health will help quantify inequality and help ensure that the people most in need of eye care receive it.
McCormick I, Kim MJ, Hydara A, et al Socioeconomic position and eye health outcomes: identifying inequality in rapid population-based surveys BMJ Open 2023;13:e069325. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-069325
Yellow fever, a viral disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes, was “one of the most dangerous infectious diseases of the 18th and 19th centuries, resulting in mass casualties in Africa and the Americas,” according to one recent article. For years up to the nineteenth century, debate raged over how the disease was transmitted. These books from the Library’s Historical Collection offer a glimpse of the different theories that were circulating by the end of the nineteenth century.
Yellow Fever as a Fungus
Domingos Freire, the author of this book, claimed to have isolated the microorganism responsible for yellow fever. However, the Cryptococcus fungus is now known to be distinct from the yellow fever virus. Though it does not cause yellow fever, it can cause a different disease when it infects immunodeficient people.
Yellow Fever as a Non-Pathogen
This book was once owned by the Ministry of Health and was presented to LSHTM Library in 1939. The author, Joseph Jones, argues that “the poison of yellow fever is a living germ of animal or vegetable nature or origin” (p. 30). However, Jones declines to expand much further than that, preferring to focus on case histories and the disease’s effects on different bodily organs and systems.
This collage of titles from Yellow Fever: A Nautical Disease shows the author John Gamgee’s argument in action. Yellow fever is now known to be transmitted by infected mosquitoes, which ventilation would only somewhat have helped with. Gamgee’s thesis is that yellow fever can be prevented by cleaning merchant ships thoroughly. It says it is a condition which emerges spontaneously in people when they are on ships. It is not contagious like smallpox, as there is no “secretion” transmitting the disease. Instead, he thinks it comes from a “poison” that emerges under certain conditions (p.16).
This book offers a similar argument for yellow fever’s arising not from a pathogen, but in the body in response to certain poor conditions. It notes several cases where, the author La Roche claims, yellow fever arose from rotting flesh in the vicinity. One might wonder if that was what attracted the infected mosquitoes. As observed by Gianchecchi et al (2022), the “highly populated cities” of the US of the nineteenth century “constituted a favorable condition for the spread of YF virus imported by ships from the Caribbean, with repeated epidemics in the US occurring in cities such as New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Orleans.” Therefore the attention this book and others paid to damp and unsanitary conditions and to ships in general was not entirely off-base. Nonetheless, commentators had missed the fact that both might be ideal conditions for mosquitoes.
Yellow Fever as a Bacterium
This report argues that the “Sanarelli bacterium” Bacillus icteroides (later revealed to be a secondary infection) is responsible for yellow fever. This report says it verified Sanarelli’s claim to have linked the bacterium with yellow fever and adds that it has successfully determined that the infection came through the respiratory tract (p.8). The investigation took place in Havana, Cuba, during the preceding year. Pictured (p. 15) is part of a series of case histories from Havana identified as yellow fever patients.
Published in 1898, this book summarises the debate at the time, including the Sanarelli bacterium but also observes its aptness to occur near coal ships, ships with dirty bilges, or ships ballasted with damp goods like mud or green wood (p.13).
This is one of the books that makes it clearest what benefits the colonial project envisioned from finding the cause of yellow fever. In the opening pages, Anderson describes the “frightful mortality” among “European troops” stationed in the West Indies over the nineteenth century. He goes on to argue that this was due to poor sanitary conditions and inappropriate kit, but that much of this had been addressed. Later on, in Chapter 3 (pictured) he claims that immigrants to the West Indies, especially white ones from northern Europe, were the most susceptible to yellow fever. However, based on what we now know of the virus, this was most likely due to survivors of a bout having acquired immunity to it.
These books came at a time just before popular acceptance that it was a virus that caused yellow fever. This theory was popularised by US Army doctors in 1901, particularly Walter Reed. They confirmed the hypothesis put forward by Carlos Finlay, a Cuban doctor, twenty years before. The virus itself was isolated, the first virus to be so, in 1927 (Staples and Monath 2008), and a vaccine was produced not long after (Frierson 2010).
McNeill, J. R. “Yellow Jack and Geopolitics: Environment, Epidemics, and the Struggles for Empire in the American Tropics, 1650–1825,” OAH Magazine of History, Volume 18, Issue 3, April 2004, Pages 9–13, https://doi.org/10.1093/maghis/18.3.9
Later this week is World Water Day (22 March), first designated in 1993 by the United Nations to improve awareness around water issues. This year, organisers are drawing particular attention to the UN Sustainable Development Goal of water and sanitation for all by 2030, which we are currently off-track to achieve. The theme for this year’s World Water Day is “Accelerating Change” to solve the worldwide water and sanitation crisis.
In recognition of the day, why not check out some of our books on water and sanitation? All of the books listed below are now on display in the Library. In addition, further books on water can be found at shelf marks beginning with SEZ, especially at the shelf mark SEZY.
by Dr Farouk Garba, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Nigeria
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world. Contrary to some conditions like cataract where patients get discharged after a successful surgery and sometimes never seen again, glaucoma is one of the areas of ophthalmology where you treat and follow up patients for life. I am a senior lecturer and consultant ophthalmologist at Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH) in Nigeria and seeing a chance to help people in this difficult, life-changing journey I decided to contribute.
In my practice we see a number of people who are blind from glaucoma, and young individuals make a good proportion of these affected people. Accessibility and affordability play an important role in health care. This is more obvious in eye care and even more so in glaucoma. In the quest to provide affordable and accessible quality glaucoma care for people in low and middle income countries (LMICs), my research question was born.
In most LMICs, glaucoma diagnosis and management is done in secondary and tertiary centres where expertise and high-tech equipment are available. This causes a lot difficulties for people in rural areas to access such facilities. My PhD project is looking at the possibility of utilising community health centres in rendering glaucoma care through the use of portable and easy to use devices.
Our work is expected to demonstrate the use of portable devices in the detection of glaucoma, and that these devices could be comfortably used by community health workers to detect glaucoma and refer for further care. In the long run through earlier detection of this irreversible disease sight loss and blindness can be prevented. The success of this project will hopefully revolutionise glaucoma management in Nigeria and other LMICs, changing the narrative of blindness due to glaucoma.
I strongly think that public education and advocacy is important in glaucoma awareness. We need people also understand how it causes blindness and why early detection is significant in preventing blindness. We need governments and other institutions with an eye health mandate to also see the importance of preventing blindness due to glaucoma as an economic and public health concern.
Consideration should be given to glaucoma patients, especially in LMICs, by subsidising investigations and treatment. More support should be encouraged through research to come up with specific questions faced by eye health care professionals, in order to diagnosis and manage the different stages and types of glaucoma, thereby preventing blindness around the world.
Dr Farouk Garba is a senior lecturer and consultant ophthalmologist at Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), and also a pioneer ICO-World Glaucoma Association Fellow, 2017. He is presently undertaking his PhD at ICEH.