It’s becoming an all too familiar notion: tens of thousands of people die, daily, from chronic diseases in low- and middle-income countries. The most clichéd cause being a lack of resources and money. However, when one considers that a significant portion of them are mundane heart diseases, lung diseases, and type II diabetes, these Non-communicable Chronic Diseases (NCDs) appear closer to home than first imagined.
We are advised by public ads, on an almost daily basis, about the symptoms of many common NCDs - and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. In most societies people know that daily exercise and healthy dietary habits can easily prevent most of these diseases, yet particular (unhealthy) lifestyles can be so engrained that the associated illnesses seem almost inevitable. Aggressive advertising campaigns further bolster a positive image of potentially very detrimental products, reinforcing bad choices by otherwise well-informed people. For example, many societies do not link smoking with potential respiratory illnesses; or a fatty, sugar-rich diet with type II diabetes. Furthermore, it’s not just Western societies where NCDs seem less pressing than other 'sexier' diseases.
The key focus of the 4th biannual Geneva Health Forum (18-20 April 2012), is exactly that: to raise awareness of current efforts towards chronic disease control and prevention. “By giving a voice to frontliners, our aim is to highlight the challenges related to chronic conditions in terms of healthcare adaptations, but also the necessary changes related to the social determinants and main drivers of these conditions,” says Dr Slim Slama, Program Manager of the Forum.
At the Geneva Health Forum, participants from the front lines of global healthcare draw attention to today's most urgent health issues, and present their approaches to seeking solutions for these problems. From projects optimizing healthcare dispersion to iPad apps, from Benin to Switzerland, an international panel of presenters discuss their ideas and insights for a healthier tomorrow.
Starting Monday April 2nd every weekday untill the 18th, The Global Journal will feature one presentation selected from the pool of participants at the Forum. NCDs are the main theme of the event but certainly not the only topic. Some interesting projects include using 'expert patients' in HIV clinics, addressing the unattended psychological needs of citizens in war-torn Afghanistan, and a study on the impact of American-style out-of-pocket health insurance plans in Bangladesh. Follow The Global Journal website for some of the fascinating insights brought from the front lines of healthcare, presented at this year’s Geneva Health Forum.
(Photo © Geneva Health Forum)
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