Professor of Global Health, and Director of the Umeå Centre for Global Health Research
Peter Byass is Professor of Global Health, and Director of the Umeå Centre for Global Health Research (UCGHR) in Sweden. UCGHR is a leading research centre, relating human health to epidemiological transition, life-course interventions, primary care, gender and climate. Peter works with his team all around the world on research that tries to improve peoples’ health and lives.
If we eat locally produced healthy food, we reduce carbon emissions and protect ourselves from the risks of various chronic diseases. So each one of us has a challenge - for the sake of the planet and for future generations - to claim the the co-benefits of reducing carbon emissions and improving our health.
So this week's meeting for the Asia Pacific region in Bangkok, and a similar meeting planned for Africa in 2015, present a unique challenge and opportunity. We have the methods and tools for universal civil registration of births and deaths on a worldwide basis - let's make it happen!
Perhaps this headline is obvious to any of us who are out and about in today's world - the one population health index that we can all observe is the apparently ever growing epidemic of people who are a little heavier than they might be - and in some cases very much heavier.
No, this isn't another dire prediction about the end of the world - but, in 1,000 days, we will arrive at the end of 2015. That's when the world is supposed to reach the endpoints for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the targets set by the global community in 2000 for various improvements in the state of the world's people.
Much has already been written about the tragic events of 14 December in Newtown, Connecticut. It's hard to think of anything much worse than twenty small children being gunned down just before Christmas, for doing nothing worse than attending school. But what is the global perspective on this awful event?
What can't be emphasised too strongly here is that these are analyses of real deaths and actual weather. They are not simulations or models - and it reflects the great strength of the INDEPTH Network that it is possible to analyse factual information in this way from parts of the world where reliable data are usually in short supply.
"Please mind the gap..." is a familiar warning for all London Underground passengers! But it is becoming an increasingly important refrain in global health - gaps in geography, wealth and medicine lead to real disadvantage and discrimination for many in terms of living healthy lives.
Figures on births, lives and deaths are technically known as "vital statistics" - literally meaning statistics about life. But they are also vital in another sense - planners of health care and other services desperately need to know about the populations they are trying to serve, rather than relying on guesses and assumptions.
I first visited Vietnam around 20 years ago - at a time when almost everyone travelled by bicycle, and the whole country operated in a somewhat austere style. Having been back regularly since then, I've seen the bicycles transforming into motorbikes, and more recently the motorbikes into cars.
Many people in the world have no idea about dengue fever, while others are all too aware of its dangers and maybe even live in fear of its potentially fatal consequences. Since there is no specific vaccine or treatment for dengue fever, tools for preventing and controlling outbreaks are an immediate priority.
We have all become used to seeing sad headlines about the numbers of people dying from HIV/AIDS. Current global estimates are well over one million per year. But have you ever asked yourself the question "<em>Who's counting?</em>".
All around the world mental health care tends to get marginalised - and globally Africa always gets marginalised - so the combination of mental health and Africa must be one of the most neglected subjects imaginable.
03/08/2011 17:24 BST
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