Displaying 1-3 of 3 key documents
Source: The Lancet | October 2008
This series of commentaries and research articles — published by The Lancet, the Peking University Health Sciences Centre and the China Medical Board — addresses China's major health challenges, strategies and future. It has been produced by a group of 63 scientists from 10 countries with Chinese scientists making up two-thirds of the authors.
The research papers give scientific evidence on key health issues including the emergence and control of both infectious and chronic non-infectious diseases in China as well as the performance of China's healthcare system.
Authors of the series' commentaries further discuss a range of topical issues affecting China's health system, including the state of biomedical science and technology (see 'Progress in Chinese biomedicine a massive challenge'), medical research ethics, the lessons learnt from China's schistosomiasis control programme and the challenges the country faces in controlling HIV/AIDS.
Source: PLoS Medicine | September 2007
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) practically define health efforts in the 21st century, but they virtually ignore non-communicable diseases such as mental health, say these authors. This is despite evidence that mental health disorders are among the most important cause of sickness and disability and even premature mortality. The authors argue that tackling mental health problems will be vital to achieving the MDGs, and three in particular — eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, and improving maternal health.
Poverty and hunger are well-recognised risk factors for mental health, but mental health also makes it harder for people to escape the hunger trap. Mothers who are depressed during pregnancy and post natally, are more likely to have underweight babies; not only that, the illness means these mothers are more likely to stop breastfeeding and less likely to ensure their children are properly immunised than mothers without depression.
The authors advocate that strengthening basic health-care systems should be holistic. For example, developing countries need more and better-trained health workers but they should not only know how to deliver babies but also how to counsel new mothers. HIV/AIDS programmes, as another example, should ensure that individuals not only have good access to antiretrovirals but also to treatment for depression if they need it.
Source: PLoS Medicine | June 2007
Schizophrenia is relatively rare — affecting 1% of the world's population — but is arguably one of the most severe mental illnesses. Diagnosing and treating it can be hard enough in developed countries; the challenges are magnified in developing nations with inadequate health systems; few trained staff; and pervasive social stigma. So how best to treat it? In this debate, three psychiatrists offer their different viewpoints.
Vikram Patel, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says the shortage of mental health specialists means that the most effective way of spreading the expertise around might be for non-specialist health workers or community representatives to be trained to bear the brunt of providing first-line mental health services. Saeed Farooq, at Pakistan's Lady Reading Hospital, argues that the principles of the WHO's DOTS TB programme, in which patients are given an uninterrupted supply of medication taken under close supervision, could be used to treat schizophrenia. The rationale is that missing medication for schizophrenia, which can be common given the cognitive impairment associated with the illness, has serious consequences and can lead to much higher risks of relapse. R. Thara, director of the Schizophrenia Research Foundation, Chennai, India, advocates tackling stigma by offering proper treatment. In India at least, he says, the mystification of mental illness is intensified by a lack of awareness about schizophrenia and also by "magico-religious" beliefs. Effective treatment that shows the symptoms to be an illness rather than a religious curse is the best antidote to stigma, he says.