United Nations Year in Review: Video

On December 19, the United Nations (UN) posted this compilation video highlighting major events, crises, and successes around the world. The video details the UN’s work throughout 2013 to “negotiate peace, instill hope, and define a sustainable future for all.” The first half of the video focuses largely on peacekeeping efforts, but around minute 10 it becomes more global health-related. From that point on, the video covers topics such as poverty, hunger, sanitation, and the environment. I would like to see a similar 2013 recap video from the World Health Organization. In the event they create one, we will post it on this blog.

What are some major global health crises and milestones that could be included in a 2013 recap video? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


UPDATE: As promised, here is the 2013 year in review video from the World Health Organization. Some topics were crowdsourced using social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.

One thing I see missing is Ethiopia reaching MDG 4. And more generally, updates and progress towards the health-related MDGs. Did you contribute to this video through Facebook or Twitter? What else do you think should have been included?

Communicating Through Animation: Video Reviews

The two videos below, one from the WHO and the other from USAID, use cartoon animations to convey their messages. While I think the use of animation in global health videos is an interesting tactic, I wonder if it’s a more or less effective form of communication when compared to videos featuring real people. I understand the need to find alternative, non-traditional ways to communicate and share messages, but, personally, I don’t find it as compelling to watch the story of a cartoon character, even when it’s based on a true story. Since global health work is about the people impacted and lives saved, I think it’s nice to see both the challenges and results as they appear in reality.

The first video highlights some of the different ways the WHO improves our health on a daily basis. The second video celebrates World AIDS Day (today, December 1) and 10 years of PEPFAR with the story of Gift, a 10-year old girl whose family was impacted by HIV. Watch these two short videos and leave a comment to let us know how you feel about the use of animation.

WHO: Bringing Health to Life
World AIDS Day 2013: Gift’s Last 10 Years 

Eliminating Rabies: WHO Video Review

Did you know that rabies kills more than 60,000 people each year? About half of all victims are children. This year on World Rabies Day, September 28, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared their promise to eliminate human rabies, a neglected tropical disease.

Rabies is a viral disease, spread from animals to humans through saliva. The most deaths from rabies occur in Africa and Asia, with the majority of cases transmitted by dogs. But rabies is preventable! Education and awareness, animal and human vaccinations, and community surveillance are some strategies for prevention and elimination. With lots of attention on the usual global health priority areas, it’s nice to see these three international organizations coming together to raise awareness and fight a neglected tropical disease.

Read their statement and watch this short video for more information. 

Guinea-Worm Disease & Eradication: WHO Video Review

Guinea-worm disease, or dracunculiasis, is a neglected tropical disease (NTD) with no vaccine or medication for treatment. The disease is caused by a parasitic worm known as the Guinea-worm and is transmitted through contaminated drinking water. Guinea-worm disease is the first parasitic disease set for eradication and this short World Health Organization (WHO) video shows the progress of eradication efforts to date.

When someone drinks water from a source contaminated with water fleas that carry the Guinea-worm larvae, the larvae are released in the stomach and pass into the body cavity. Over the course of 10-14 months, the larvae mature and turn into worms. At this point, a painful blister forms on the outside of the body (usually on the lower legs and feet) as the female worms try to exit the body. The blister causes an intense burning sensation which often leads people to submerge their legs/feet in water for relief. While the blister is submerged, the female worm comes out and releases thousands of larvae into the water, thus contaminating the water and completing the cycle of infection. 

I find it amazing that Guinea-worm disease is on the verge of eradication because in this case, eradication has nearly been achieved through preventive measures alone. From health education and increased detection to water filtration and water treatment, the prevention efforts put forth have decreased the number of reported cases from 1,797 in 2010 to just 90 between January and June 2013.

This is a great accomplishment for the global health community. Congratulations to the WHO, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Carter Center, UNICEF and all others supporting the eradication of Guinea-worm disease!

The Many Paths Towards Universal Health Coverage: WHO Video Review

This post was written by Niniola Soleye.

Universal health care (UHC) is a hot topic in global health right now. The United Nations, World Health Organization (WHO), and World Bank have all endorsed UHC. Further, UHC has played a prominent role in discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals, which will build on the Millennium Development Goals and support the post-2015 development agenda. The WHO put together a video to explain UHC and show how some countries are providing universal access to basic health care services.

As Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO said in the video, “Universal health coverage is the most powerful concept that public health has to offer.” The key to UHC is that it allows for equity within a health system. It guarantees health care to all members of a population and overcomes the challenges of unavailable or unaffordable services, which is often the case in modern health care settings.

The video highlights UHC in six countries – China, Oman, Mexico, Rwanda, Thailand, and Turkey. It shows how each country is addressing their health care system and making progress towards UHC.

I found it very interesting to see the differences between each country. It really drove home the point that there is no single UHC approach or model that will work for every country. The journey towards UHC is unique and varied. For example, in China the emphasis is on how to cover as many people as possible. In Oman, the focus is on access because their population, while small, is widely dispersed throughout the country. Mexico, Thailand, and Turkey are working on expanding the type and quality of services provided, while Rwanda has increased coverage from 7% to 97% in the last decade.

The main takeaways from the ten-minute video are the importance and benefits of UHC, the challenges in implementing it, and the various models that allow countries to work towards providing basic primary care to everyone.