“Global health” said Dr [Mrs] Ihuoma P Asiabaka is the health of people in a global context and transcends the perspectives and concerns of individual nations. It is about worldwide improvement of health, reduction of disparities and protection against global threat that disregard national borders.
“Exposure to transnational threat such as climate change, poverty, violence, etc and a feeling of increase & shared responsibility for iniquities present in the world today necessitated a more global approach to improving the health of the world”.
It is based on these that the Centre for Women, Gender and Development Studies, CWGDS, office of the Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, FUTO, in collaboration with Institute of Environmental Health Technology, IEHT, FUTO organizes an International conference on ‘Global Health: Issues, Challenges and Management. The event took place from 20-22nd May, 2013.
In his address, The Vice Chancellor of FUTO, Prof CC Asiabaka declares “As a university which has school of health technology with a clear mandate to research into health related issues and health technology, our concern is not limited to the production of professionals and specialist in the area of health technology, we are also expected to create fora such as this where relevant information and awareness on health, environmental issues would be examined, thoroughly discussed and implementable solutions proffered for the benefit of mankind and the society at large.
In her opening address to the conference, The Ag Director of CWGDS, Dr [Mrs] Ihuoma P Asiabaka said “Global health problems are as a result of economic, social, environmental, political and health care inequalities and thus require solution from interdisciplinary teams in such areas as health, education, social sciences, science and technology.
“The global health challenges include among other issues, HIV/AIDS, Malaria, emergency and refugee health, non communicable diseases, injuries, etc.
“Thus there is need for collaborative national and trans-national efforts including developing evidence-based policy research and using such evidence-based information constructively in all countries to improve health equity, and also using public health promotion strategies to improve health and underlying social, economic, environmental and political determinants of health”.
The lead paper was presented by Prof Linus Amobi Ilika of community medicine department, Nnamdi Azikwe Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, titled ‘Global health: issues, challenge and management’ and Dr. I. E. Anigbogu of the faculty of Law, Madonna University, Okija, which is ‘Sex, Sexuality and Gender imbalance’.
Prof Linus opined that “Global health has emerged as a growing field, particularly over the past two decades. Greater recognition of the global AIDS crisis, combined with the appearance and rapid international spread of epidemics such as SARS, anthrax, the Ebola virus, swine flu (H1N1), etc., have reinforced that health threats transcend national borders. While much of the media attention has focused on epidemic of infectious diseases, poverty, environmental pollution and degradation, social inequalities, global health looks at a wider scope of health problems, determinants, and solutions, such as chronic illnesses, accidents and injuries. Other global health challenges include but not limited to poverty, environmental and health emergencies, gender violence and abuse, substance use and abuse, sex and sexuality, infant and maternal mortalities, terrorism etc”.
The Issues are that “For instance, health care systems are still neither available nor accessible (when and if available) to a great many people in Nigeria; infrastructural decay is common in the available health care systems; non-communicable diseases (such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases) are still major threats to Nigerians between the ages of 30 and above; hundreds of children under the age of 5 die from malnutrition, diarrhoea, measles, respiratory diseases and mostly preventable diseases, each year. It is on records that millions of people die of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, pneumonia, diarrhoea, tuberculosis and malaria annually”.
“The biggest challenge in global health” said Prof Linus “is the lack of financial resources to combat the multiple scourges ravaging the world's poor and sick. Today, more funds are needed for pressing heath issues than ever before. Furthermore, funds are needed to support research, build health facilities, train more health personnel, build capacity and competence among health care providers……..”.
On the management he said “For the world to begin to address health issues, three principles of action should be considered, conditions of daily life have to be improved --- the conditions in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age; the inequitable distribution of power, money, and other resources has to be tackled; the structural drivers of those conditions of daily life globally, nationally, and locally; and problems have to be measured, actions evaluated, knowledge base expanded; a workforce that is trained in the social determinants of health has to be developed, and a public awareness has to be raised about the social determinants of health. He also added Millennium Development Goals.
Many papers were presented on topical and current contemporary global health issues which include some of th following, safe motherhood, child survival strategies, sex and sexuality, Malaria, substance use and abuse, poverty and health, environmental health in emergencies, etc. The conference was well attended by FUTO principal officers, academia, and participants across the nation, students inclusive.
Aisha Aminu, a participant from Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina has this to say “the papers presented are well packaged and timely, most especially those on gender inequality. Though I was pessimistic on coming; but my coming prove to be worth, and beneficial. I appreciate the organizers of the conference”. For Ugobo Emmanuel, 400 level student of Public Health, university of Calabar he said “ I gained a lot especially those issue on safe motherhood, gender imbalance and others which were touched in the communiqué issued, which are all for the promotion of public health, I am happy”.
Abdullahi Mustapha, from Sa’adatu Rimi college of Education, Kumbotso, Kano who present 2 papers had this to say on the conference “I appreciate the way the conference was organized, many participants across the nation came, we interact, educative papers were discusses and solution proffered”.
For John Kilakime, 500 level, Environmental Health Technology “As an environmental health student, my eye is now to the current global health issues, as there is no one single profession that has exclusive monopoly over how the problems could be solve, all disciplines are important. My interest in the conference is on environmental health in emergencies, for wherever there is an emergency, environmental health issues shall arise, like sanitary condition, water supply, food supplementation, food hygiene, etc., heavy metal resistance in microbes, health care financing & poverty and safe motherhood”.
At the end of the conference, a communiqué was produced which emphasizes among others the importance of safe motherhood, the challenges of drugs and alcohol abuse, established relationship between poverty and ill health, improper waste disposal practice; and recommends among others the need for greater involvement of stakeholders in the promotion of public and environmental health, empowerment of women, address inadequate distribution of health facilities and improved budget allocation to health.