Global health transcends boundaries. But it also transcends domains and disciplines of practice. Canada is positioned to play a strategic role as a leader on the international development stage, and this means that integrating youth leaders into global discourses, particularly relating to health, is vital.
This year, the World Health Organization is calling on the global community to "end malaria for good" by lowering the global malaria burden over the next 15 years, and reducing malaria death rates by at least 90%. We still have a long way to go, but the end of the malaria epidemic may finally be in sight, and could even be achieved within our lifetime.
UNAIDS has embraced the ambitious goal of ending the AIDS by 2030, and this has now been formally endorsed within the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals agenda. On World AIDS Day, UNAIDS will be calling for the world to achieve: "Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths."
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages includes a cross-cutting set of targets on maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, and environmental impacts. Health is also integrated as a target across a number of goals, including those related to gender, the environment, poverty and consumption -- implicitly recognizing the inter linkages necessary to health.
As IFA interventions are reprioritized as part of maternal health initiatives, the composition of the supplement itself is being reconsidered. Pregnant women may benefit from more than just iron and folic acid supplements, as the diets and environments that have put them at risk of anemia may also be contributing to suboptimal intakes of other micronutrients. For example, millions of pregnant women suffer from vitamin A deficiency, zinc, and iodine, suggesting supplements could help fill the dietary gaps at the same time.
WHO recommends vitamin A supplements to improve child survival. Vitamin A supplements have been shown to reduce the number of deaths from measles by 50 per cent, in populations with vitamin A deficiency. For children who are vitamin A deficient or undernourished, it would seem a simple solution -- immunization against measles and better nutrition -- to save lives.
For first-year University of Toronto student Jessie MacAlpine, finding a potential treatment for malaria was almost too easy. First, she stumbled upon an herbicide compound through research in high school, then she read an article about how herbicides could be used to treat malaria, and then the "Eureka!" moment came.
The majority of our patients live. But sometimes they do not. Child survival in Chad is a day-to-day struggle. Many survive thanks to low-cost interventions like vaccination, proper nutrition, antibiotics, rehydration, blood transfusion and oxygen. Sadly, these interventions are available to too few.
My project has its roots with my colleagues at the Guatemalan Ministry of Health who, after the initial success in the roll-out of the zinc and oral rehydration salts (ORS) treatment program for diarrhea, started thinking of ways to improve the program and its potential impact. They had the initial idea for what's become the cajita salvavida or "Life-saving Box."