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  1. 1

    Prison health: a threat or an opportunity? [editorial]

    Lancet. 2005 Jul 2; 366(9479):1.

    Last week, WHO distributed to all European ministries of health one of the most important documents on prison health ever published. The report, Status Paper on Prisons, Drugs and Harm Reduction, brings together the wealth of evidence that shows that infectious disease transmission in prisons can be prevented and even reversed by simple, safe, and cheap harm-reduction strategies. Perhaps most importantly, the paper affirms WHO’s commitment to harm reduction, despite opposition from many governments who view such approaches as a tacit endorsement of illegal behaviour. The public-health case for action is strong, but political commitment to this method of combating health problems in prisons remains elusive. Indeed, health problems in prisons are numerous. Prisoners are often from the poorest sectors of society and consequently already suffer from health inequalities. Being in prison commonly exacerbates existing health problems—incarcerating anyone, especially vulnerable groups such as drug users and those with mental illness, has serious health and social consequences. (excerpt)
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  2. 2

    Meeting global health challenges: a position paper on health education.

    Dhillon HS; Tolsma D

    [Unpublished] 1992 Apr. [3], 13 p.

    Leaders of WHO and the International Union for Health Education have joined to review health education as it exists in various regions and nations of the world. Health education should be a focus of national and international strategies to foster health for all. The blend of planned social actions and learning experience which allow people to control the causes of health and health behaviors and those conditions which influence their health status and that of others embraces health education. People and community participation is needed in health education since it supports respect for others and a groundwork for following joint efforts and partnerships. Health behaviors consist of healthy life styles, preventive behaviors, and social actions that lead to equitable health, environmental, and social policies. Constant and complex changes in biological, social, and environmental factors affect health. For example, chronic diseases have replaced infectious diseases as the leading public health problem. Yet new communicable diseases, e.g., AIDS, have appeared in developing and developed countries. Health educators, health workers, teachers, parents, and friends must all promote health education. Successful health education programs have various management and technical program characteristics. For example, they have access to the financial resources needed to plan, staff, conduct, and manage the program. Political will, staff and resources to support program operations, a solid organizational structure including high level administrative and management support, and accessible services are all principal components of successful programs. Such programs also face clear, flexible goals. Other important characteristics include careful planning, monitoring, and evaluating of programs; using multiple theories or models; intersectoral collaboration; many intervention methods; participation; and qualified staff. Health educators and others working toward health for all should do so through advocacy, empowerment, and support strategies.
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  3. 3

    News about AIDS.

    WORLD HEALTH FORUM. 1991; 12(4):496-7.

    WHO estimates that the number of AIDS cases worldwide will grow from about 1.5 million to 12-18 million by 2000--a 10 fold increase. Further it expects the cumulative number of HIV infected individuals to increase from 9-11 million to 30-40 million by 2000--a 3-4 fold increase. Dr. Hiroshi Nakajima, the Director-General of WHO, points out that despite the rise in AIDS, there is something for which to be thankful--neither air, nor water, nor insects disseminate HIV and causal social contact does not transmit it. Further since AIDS is basically a sexually transmitted disease, health education can inform people of the need to make life style changes which in turn prevents its spread. In addition, Dr. Nakajima illustrates how frank health education and information campaigns in the homosexual community in developed countries have resulted in reduced infection rates. In fact, many of the people disseminating the safer sex message in the homosexual community were people living with HIV and AIDS. HIV has infected >7 million adults and children in Sub-Saharan Africa since the AIDS pandemic began. It is now spreading quickly in south and southeast Asia where at least 1 million people carry HIV. In fact, WHO believes that by the mid to late 1990s HIV will infect more Asians than Africans. Further Latin America is not HIV free and it can be easily spread there too. Heterosexual intercourse has replaced homosexual intercourse and needle sharing by intravenous drug users as the leading route of HIV transmission.
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  4. 4
    Peer Reviewed

    Vector-borne disease problems in rapid urbanization: new approaches to vector control.

    Knudsen AB; Slooff R


    Rural-urban migration and population growth are occurring more quickly now than ever before in history. These phenomena have resulted in overcrowded urbanization and increased densities of vectors which in turn have caused an increase in disease such as malaria and dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever. Besides urban areas foster the breeding of mosquitoes, rats, and other pests. Further governmental services in both developed and developing countries have not been able to keep up with housing and sanitation needs. Moreover new migrants continue to move into temporary housing (slums) made of inferior materials with no services while the previous occupants improve their wages and move on to better housing. Thus little incentive exists to improve slums where sanitation is poor and disease common. In addition, many formerly rural people continue rural practices and traditions in urban areas such as patterns of water storage. Further people often try to control vectors by applying pesticides, but do so haphazardly and/or in an unsafe, uncontrolled manner. They even use empty pesticide containers for storing water or food. Besides insecticide resistance is spreading. WHO encourages governments to integrate disease control programs with primary health care, but most such integrated programs operate in developed countries. Integrated approaches include less dependence on pesticides; encouraging changes in human behavior; disseminating health messages; community participation, particularly the youth; mobilization of human and financial resources; and proper urban development, e.g., better quality housing and adequate sanitation and potable water.
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