The lack of effective reproductive health education and sanitary products are some of the key factors resulting in as many at 1 million girls in Kenya not going to school. Girls in Uganda have been found to miss up to eight days of school each term (11% of their total learning days each year) for the same reasons, and it has been estimated that 1/10 girls across the whole of Africa will miss school when they have their period.
Online information seeking is a skill which some people, including patients, have acquired rather better than others.
Glazsiou & Chalmers noted the following in relation to global health research:
1. 'We know from follow up of registered clinical trials that about 50% are never published in full, a figure which varies little across countries, size of study, funding source, or phase of trial.' This begs two questions: What percentage of *all* health research (clinical trials plus non-trial health research) is published? And what percentage of health research in LMICs (whether clinical trials or otherwise) is published.
And there is a further imbalancing twist. While authors from Africa find it difficult to get published in journals in the USA and Europe... publishers from LMICs find it difficult to get accredited by the US and European 'regulators' of what is respectable and what isn't...
'This research report summarises the best evidence available - from both research and practice - on what approaches are most effective in ensuring the accuracy, readability, relevance and impact of consumer health information...'
'The biggest issue is not necessarily one of quantity - quality is paramount. How accessible, timely, readable, reeliable and useful is the information provided? What does high quality health information really look like?'
A few years back as part of my public health work at LSHTM I had been surprised by the general standard of health information in the Arabic language. Quality and reliability were key issues for me. However the accessibility of this information for the ordinary person or patient in these mainly developing countries was the critical issue. There is lots of research that points to this.
One of the consequences of the ugly world of marketing by pharmaceutical companies is the over-medicalisation and over-medication of millions of people who do not need the drugs, and indeed are more likely to suffer harm (for example, from side effects) than they are to derive any benefit. With this in mind, I was interested to read in a BMJ article that *almost 1 in 10* citizens in the United States are currently, at this moment, on antidepressants:
I have registered on PubMed Commons and I think this is going to become a very valuable tool for post-publication discussion of individual papers across the health sciences literature. I would encourage you to try it. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedcommons/ If, having registered, one makes a comment on a paper, then the comment appears immediately. There is even a link if you want to make a request to the lead author to comment.
The potential commercialisation of the ".health" new top-level domain name (and indeed other health-related TLDs) has profound risks to public and individual health, not least because it will make it more difficult for global citizens to differentiate between reliable and unreliable health information (unreliable in all its forms: commercially-biased, ideological, false, and/or not reflective of the available cumulative evidence...)
Improving the availability and use of reliable health information for citizens, health workers and policymakers is fundamental to the achievement of Universal Health Coverage, whereby all people should have access to the quality, essential health services they need without enduring financial hardship. UHC is now established as the dominant vision for global health in the coming decades. With this in mind, I would like to pass on an important new joint discussion paper, which suggests commitment not only by WHO (which we know already), but also by the World Bank.