This Week in Global Health
This week the Economist discusses the boom of health apps, projecting that the challenging, long-term management, particularly of chronic patients will be increasingly done by electronic applications: “[Your.MD] typifies a new approach to mobile health (also known as m-health): it is intelligent, personalised and gets cleverer as it gleans data from its users.” One of the most exciting developments is the potential for post-release assessment of pharmaceuticals, creating more checks on medication that is not doing its job. The one critique is that this “fragmented” industry will need to increase the number of checks it puts on these apps as they move beyond healthy life style suggestions and the casual pedometer.
Earlier this month The Lancet released an important article further characterizing complications and challenges of diagnosing the Zika Virus. This article notes that Zika must be detected early: “the virus is detectable in blood during the period of acute viremia
and initial symptoms and subsequently is shed in the urine, generally for 3 to 14 days.” The article goes on to confirm “abnormal fetal and placental displacement” in women infected with Zika as well as to draw parallels between the symptoms of Zika and “those of rubella, particularly rash, arthralgias, pruritus, and lymphadenopathy.” This all falls within the purview of The Lancet’s call to make all relevant public health information pertaining to Zika a priority. The need for such informational was “brought into stark relief by [both] the Ebola and Zika outbreaks.”
For more helpful information about Zika click here.
Another important piece on epidemics came out of the Global Health Manchester Society on the effects of Ebola humanitarian assistance on other public health problems. Writer Joe Watson comments on the precarious position of humanitarian workers choosing which illnesses take priority, citing “10 900 more deaths due to malaria during this time…[and] the 2000 malaria community health workers in Sierra Leone who were retrained to fight Ebola prioritising the immediate threat of Ebola over the future threat of malaria.” This is an important reflection on how we address epidemics, particularly in the face of the recent Zika outbreak.