Workers test chickens at a market in Thailand.

The social life of infectious diseases: a new impact story from STEPS

A new multimedia story, ‘The social life of infectious diseases’ is the first in a new series of impact stories from the STEPS Centre. It traces how our thinking on avian flu, Ebola and other infectious diseases has evolved over the last ten years, and how we have engaged with debates, policy-making and practical action….

How to prevent epidemics: an optimist’s blog

  “The optimist is someone who believes the future is uncertain.” Leo Szilard   When I first studied epidemiology several decades ago, a story made the rounds that was supposed to make us feel that we were smart. If an old man came into a medical clinic with diarrhoea, the doctor would treat it. If…

El Niño predictions signal urgent need to prepare for Rift Valley fever epidemics in eastern Africa

Recent climate predictions suggest East Africa may be in line for an epidemic of Rift Valley fever (RVF) – an infectious disease which can hit people, their livestock and livelihoods, and national economies hard.

Welcoming the medics to the One Health movement

The Ebola epidemic alerted many to the interconnectedness of human, animal and environmental health. The medical community has traditionally lagged behind animal health and ecosystem experts in embracing One Health, the predominant movement espousing this approach, but now a report from a Lancet and Rockefeller Foundation co-convened Commission on Planetary Health appears to do so enthusiastically…

More than nets: tackling malaria through development

Does reducing poverty help to tackle malaria? A systematic review of studies on socioeconomic status and malaria in children, published in the Lancet, suggests that greater wealth and standards of living are important for malaria control. The authors include John Thompson, a STEPS Centre member. Malaria control is often focused on methods from the health…

Soldiers hand out masks near a shopping mall in Mexico City after the emergence of H1N1 in April 2009. Photo: Militares y Cubrebocas by eneas on Flickr (cc-by)

Pandemic Flu Controversies

How can a better understanding of the social, political, institutional and policy dimensions of pandemic control and preparedness planning help us deal with new outbreak controversies, such as the new H7N9 avian flu in China? Useful resources about pandemic influenza, including material from the STEPS Centre and Sussex University Centre for Global Health Policy’s recent Pandemic Flu Controversies workshop which discussed lessons,…

Pandemic Influenza: Research themes

  Outbreak policy narratives Public and policy reactions to H5N1 and H1N1 have been guided by the prospect of the devastating impacts of an outbreak. ‘Outbreak narratives’ have guided policymaking, with the building of drug stockpiles, the development of contingency plans and so on. Draconian measures for containment have often been devised, including restrictions on…

Pandemic Influenza: Resources

Books Scoones, I. (ed.) (2010)  Avian Influenza: Science, Policy and Politics, London: Earthscan Routledge. Elbe, S. (2010) Security and Global Health, Polity Press Dry, S. and Leach, M. (eds.) (2010) Epidemics: Science, Governance and Social Justice, London: Earthscan: Routledge. (Includes Scoones, I.,  Fighting the flu: Risk, uncertainty and surveillance) Projects: Pharmaceuticals and Security: The Role…

AVIAN FLU BIO-TERROR FEARS

By Julia Day Researchers in a Dutch University laboratory have mutated the H5N1 strain of avian influenza so that it can be transmitted betweem humans through the air via coughs and sneezes, according to a UK newspaper report this morning. The US Government is worried the ‘super strain’ may escape the lab and cause a…

MONTREUX: ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE AND HEALTH RISKS

By Michael Loevinsohn, STEPS Centre member On Wednesday I chaired a session on New Directions in Health-Environment Research: Implications for Health Systems. The topic is a bit off the beam of the Symposium’s thrust: it’s one of 13 concurrent sessions, and about 20 people attend. Setting the stage, I describe the methodological challenges researchers are…