Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Future of Global Health. Reasons for Alarm and a Call for Action

Just published (open access) in the World Medical Journal (Vol 59, issue 3)

Co-written with Prof Phil Weinstein

The abstract is below. Mainly this paper warns that "business as usual" will lead to a deterioration in global population size and life expectancy. "Peak health" may already be in the past. We might be able to change course but it's getting very late.

This paper was requested after the editor read our editorial in EcoHealth, in 2011. It is to be translated to Latvian.

Here is the abstract:

"The future of global health depends far more on fundamental ecological and social determinants than on progress for health technologies, whether surgical, pharmacological or immunological. There is a growing gap between the optimism in official forecasts of development and global health and the trend of the most important health determinants. Without fundamental change to these, in turn requiring a global shift in culture and measurements of progress, the prospects for global health look bleak. “Peak health” in the past has generally referred to humans in their prime of fitness; in the future it may be seen to refer to the time when global life expectancy reached its maximum. That time may be within a decade – but, if we can change sufficient practices, then we might still improve global health through this century."

“The prospect for the human race is sombre beyond all precedent. Mankind is faced with a clear-cut alternative: either we shall all perish, or we shall have to acquire some slight degree of common sense. A great deal of new political thinking will be necessary if utter disaster is to be averted.” Bertrand Russell, 1945.