public health

Over the past few decades, it has become possible to speak of a "global food system"—shorthand for the trade patterns, shaped by multinational companies, that move raw agriculture commodities and processed food across borders. Yet as this fascinating new Oxfam study shows, there are still huge differences in people's experience of food across the globe. Oxfam ranked nations on four criteria: whether food exists in plentiful supply, whether it's broadly affordable, whether it's of good quality, and whether it's causing high rates of obesity and diabetes.

While developing countries once struggled with famine, they now struggle with obesity. China and Mexico are seeing dramatic increases in the problem, thanks to an abundance of processed food and sugary drinks, more sedentary lifestyles, and ignorance of what makes a good diet. "Future Diets" report author Steven Wiggins believes South Korea has the answer. Dominic Kane reports.

Health agencies are warning of an “alarming” increase in AIDS-related deaths among adolescents, a new front line in the fight against a global epidemic that has waned in recent years. This worrying new trend is a setback for efforts to eradicate the virus, according to a United Nations report released ahead of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. Among youth aged 10 to 19, deaths linked to AIDS increased by 50 percent between 2005 and 2012, compared with a 30 percent decline seen in the general population.

Since 2004, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has funded HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment programs credited with extending the lives of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa, which has received the majority of PEPFAR funding, reaching more than $500 million annually. In a place where a positive diagnosis of HIV/AIDS used to be a death sentence, America brought hope for longer lives.

Infectious diseases that leave victims with cognitive deficits or malnutrition instead of killing them do not typically elicit fundraising galas or research dollars, especially when the illnesses disproportionately impact the poorest of the poor. But a new coalition of funders is now trying to throw these neglected diseases a financial lifeline.

To reduce the spread of viral hepatitis disease and promote greater understanding of hepatitis, July 28 is observed as World Hepatitis Day. On this day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its partners focus on the fact that although the burden of disease caused by viral hepatitis is growing, it remains largely ignored or unknown as a health threat. For 2013, the overall theme continues to be ‘This is hepatitis. Know it. Confront it’.

It is estimated that more than 100,000 people are living with HIV in South Sudan, but only about 4,678 people access anti-retroviral therapy (ARTs). For people living with HIV, contracting TB adds to their challenges, as health services and treatment are limited. Moreover, with both HIV and TB heavily stigmatized, those affected are often reluctant to seek treatment, even where it is available.

This is a stark contrast to the stories of India's economic rise that have dominated headlines for the past decade. Many in India have been lifted from poverty, and the middle class has greatly expanded, as have the ranks of millionaires and billionaires. Yet extreme poverty is still a problem, and India has not been as successful as some other developing countries when it comes to reducing childhood illnesses and mortality.