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The Multiple Meanings of Global Health Governance: A Call for Conceptual Clarity

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

The term global health governance (GHG) is now widely used, with over one thousand works published in the scholarly literature, almost all since 2002. Amid this rapid growth there is considerable variation in how the term is defined and applied, generating confusion as to the boundaries of the subject, the perceived problems in practice, and the goals to be achieved through institutional reform.

Methodology

This paper is based on the results of a separate scoping study of peer reviewed GHG research from 1990 onwards which undertook keyword searches of public health and social science databases. Additional works, notably books, book chapters and scholarly articles, not currently indexed, were identified through Web of Science citation searches. After removing duplicates, book reviews, commentaries and editorials, we reviewed the remaining 250 scholarly works in terms of how the concept of GHG is applied. More specifically, we identify what is claimed as constituting GHG, how it is problematised, the institutional features of GHG, and what forms and functions are deemed ideal.

Results

After examining the broader notion of global governance and increasingly ubiquitous term “global health”, the paper identifies three ontological variations in GHG scholarship - the scope of institutional arrangements, strengths and weaknesses of existing institutions, and the ideal form and function of GHG. This has produced three common, yet distinct, meanings of GHG that have emerged – globalisation and health governance, global governance and health, and governance for global health.

Conclusions

There is a need to clarify ontological and definitional distinctions in GHG scholarship and practice, and be critically reflexive of their normative underpinnings. This will enable greater precision in describing existing institutional arrangements, as well as serve as a prerequisite for a fuller debate about the desired nature of GHG.

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The Economic Burden of Prematurity in Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

Preterm birth is a major risk factor for morbidity and mortality among infants worldwide, and imposes considerable burden on health, education and social services, as well as on families and caregivers. Morbidity and mortality resulting from preterm birth is highest among early (< 28 weeks gestational age) and moderate (28–32 weeks) preterm infants, relative to late preterm infants (33–36 weeks). However, substantial societal burden is associated with late prematurity due to the larger number of late preterm infants relative to early and moderate preterm infants.

Methods

The aim in this study was to characterize the burden of premature birth in Canada for early, moderate, and late premature infants, including resource utilization, direct medical costs, parental out-of-pocket costs, education costs, and mortality, using a validated and published decision model from the UK, and adapting it to a Canadian setting based on analysis of administrative, population-based data from Québec.

Results

Two-year survival was estimated at 56.0% for early preterm infants, 92.8% for moderate preterm infants, and 98.4% for late preterm infants. Per infant resource utilization consistently decreased with age. For moderately preterm infants, hospital days ranged from 1.6 at age two to 0.09 at age ten. Cost per infant over the first ten years of life was estimated to be $67,467 for early preterm infants, $52,796 for moderate preterm infants, and id="mce_marker"0,010 for late preterm infants. Based on population sizes this corresponds to total national costs of id="mce_marker"23.3 million for early preterm infants, $255.6 million for moderate preterm infants, $208.2 million for late preterm infants, and $587.1 million for all infants.

Conclusion

Premature birth results in significant infant morbidity, mortality, healthcare utilization and costs in Canada. A comprehensive decision-model based on analysis of a Canadian population-based administrative data source suggested that the greatest national-level burden is associated with moderate preterm infants due to both a large cost per infant and population size while the highest individual-level burden is in early preterm infants and the largest total population size is in late preterm infants. Although the highest medical costs are incurred during the neonatal period, greater resource utilization and costs extend into childhood.

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Article
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Generating GPS Activity Spaces That Shed Light upon the Mobility Habits of Older Adults: A Descriptive Analysis

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

Measuring mobility is critical for understanding neighborhood influences on older adults’ health and functioning. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) may represent an important opportunity to measure, describe, and compare mobility patterns in older adults.

Methods

We generated three types of activity spaces (Standard Deviation Ellipse, Minimum Convex Polygon, Daily Path Area) using GPS data from 95 older adults in Vancouver, Canada. Calculated activity space areas and compactness were compared across sociodemographic and resource characteristics.

Results

Area measures derived from the three different approaches to developing activity spaces were highly correlated. Participants who were younger, lived in less walkable neighborhoods, had a valid driver’s license, had access to a vehicle, or had physical support to go outside of their homes had larger activity spaces. Mobility space compactness measures also differed by sociodemographic and resource characteristics.

Conclusions

This research extends the literature by demonstrating that GPS tracking can be used as a valuable tool to better understand the geographic mobility patterns of older adults. This study informs potential ways to maintain older adult independence by identifying factors that influence geographic mobility.

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Article
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The Limits of Global Health Diplomacy: Taiwan's Observer Status at the World Health Assembly

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

In 2009, health authorities from Taiwan (under the name “Chinese Taipei”)a formally attended the 62nd World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization as observers, marking the country’s participation for the first time since 1972. The long process of negotiating this breakthrough has been cited as an example of successful global health diplomacy. This paper analyses this negotiation process, drawing on government documents, formal representations from both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and key informant interviews. The actors and their motivations, along with the forums, practices and outcomes of the negotiation process, are detailed. While it is argued that non-traditional diplomatic action was important in establishing the case for Taiwan’s inclusion at the WHA, traditional concerns regarding Taiwanese sovereignty and diplomatic representation ultimately played a decisive role. The persistent influence of these traditional diplomatic questions illustrates the limits of global health diplomacy.

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Article
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An Intersectionality-Based Policy Analysis Framework: Critical Reflections on a Methodology for Advancing Equity

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Introduction

In the field of health, numerous frameworks have emerged that advance understandings of the differential impacts of health policies to produce inclusive and socially just health outcomes. In this paper, we present the development of an important contribution to these efforts – an Intersectionality-Based Policy Analysis (IBPA) Framework.

Methods

Developed over the course of two years in consultation with key stakeholders and drawing on best and promising practices of other equity-informed approaches, this participatory and iterative IBPA Framework provides guidance and direction for researchers, civil society, public health professionals and policy actors seeking to address the challenges of health inequities across diverse populations. Importantly, we present the application of the IBPA Framework in seven priority health-related policy case studies.

Results

The analysis of each case study is focused on explaining how IBPA: 1) provides an innovative structure for critical policy analysis; 2) captures the different dimensions of policy contexts including history, politics, everyday lived experiences, diverse knowledges and intersecting social locations; and 3) generates transformative insights, knowledge, policy solutions and actions that cannot be gleaned from other equity-focused policy frameworks.

Conclusion

The aim of this paper is to inspire a range of policy actors to recognize the potential of IBPA to foreground the complex contexts of health and social problems, and ultimately to transform how policy analysis is undertaken.

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Switching and Emergence of CTL Epitopes in HIV-1 Infection

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) class I restricted Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes (CTLs) exert substantial evolutionary pressure on HIV-1, as evidenced by the reproducible selection of HLA-restricted immune escape mutations in the viral genome. An escape mutation from tyrosine to phenylalanine at the 135th amino acid (Y135F) of the HIV-1 nef gene is frequently observed in patients with HLA-A*24:02, an HLA Class I allele expressed in ~70% of Japanese persons. The selection of CTL escape mutations could theoretically result in the de novo creation of novel epitopes, however, the extent to which such dynamic “CTL epitope switching” occurs in HIV-1 remains incompletely known.

Results

Two overlapping epitopes in HIV-1 nef, Nef126-10 and Nef134-10, elicit the most frequent CTL responses restricted by HLA-A*24:02. Thirty-five of 46 (76%) HLA-A*24:02-positive patients harbored the Y135F mutation in their plasma HIV-1 RNA. Nef codon 135 plays a crucial role in both epitopes, as it represents the C-terminal anchor for Nef126-10 and the N-terminal anchor for Nef134-10. While the majority of patients with 135F exhibited CTL responses to Nef126-10, none harboring the “wild-type” (global HIV-1 subtype B consensus) Y135 did so, suggesting that Nef126-10 is not efficiently presented in persons harboring Y135. Consistent with this, peptide binding and limiting dilution experiments confirmed F, but not Y, as a suitable C-terminal anchor for HLA-A*24:02. Moreover, experiments utilizing antigen specific CTL clones to recognize endogenously-expressed peptides with or without Y135F indicated that this mutation disrupted the antigen expression of Nef134-10. Critically, the selection of Y135F also launched the expression of Nef126-10, indicating that the latter epitope is created as a result of escape within the former.

Conclusions

Our data represent the first example of the de novo creation of a novel overlapping CTL epitope as a direct result of HLA-driven immune escape in a neighboring epitope. The robust targeting of Nef126-10 following transmission (or in vivo selection) of HIV-1 containing Y135F may explain in part the previously reported stable plasma viral loads over time in the Japanese population, despite the high prevalence of both HLA-A*24:02 and Nef-Y135F in circulating HIV-1 sequences.

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Article
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Pharmacies as Providers of Expanded Health Services for People Who Inject Drugs: A Review of Laws, Policies, and Barriers in Six Countries

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

People who inject drugs (PWID) are underserved by health providers but pharmacies may be their most accessible care settings.

Methods

Studies in the U.S., Russia, Vietnam, China, Canada and Mexico employed a three-level (macro-, meso-, and micro-) model to assess feasibility of expanded pharmacy services for PWID. Studies employed qualitative and quantitative interviews, review of legal and policy documents, and information on the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of key stakeholders.

Results

Studies produced a mixed assessment of feasibility. Provision of information and referrals by pharmacies is permissible in all study sites and sale and safe disposal of needles/syringes by pharmacies is legal in almost all sites, although needle/syringe sales face challenges related to attitudes and practices of pharmacists, police, and other actors. Pharmacy provision of HIV testing, hepatitis vaccination, opioid substitution treatment, provision of naloxone for drug overdose, and abscess treatment, face more serious legal and policy barriers.

Discussion

Challenges to expanded services for drug users in pharmacies exist at all three levels, especially the macro-level characterized by legal barriers and persistent stigmatization of PWID. Where deficiencies in laws, policies, and community attitudes block implementation, stakeholders should advocate for needed legal and policy changes and work to address community stigma and resistance. Laws and policies are only as good as their implementation, so attention is also needed to meso- and micro- levels. Policies, attitudes, and practices of police departments and pharmacy chains as well as knowledge, attitudes, and practices of individual PWID, individual pharmacies, and police officers should support rather than undermine positive laws and expanded services. Despite the challenges, pharmacies remain potentially important venues for delivering health services to PWID.

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Clinical Usefulness of Lipid Ratios to Identify Men and Women with Metabolic Syndrome: A Cross-Sectional Study

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

Waist circumference, a metabolic syndrome (MetSy) criterion, is not routinely measured in clinical practice making early identification of individuals with MetSy challenging. It has been argued that ratios of commonly measured parameters such as lipids and lipoproteins may be an acceptable alternative for identifying individuals with MetSy. The objective of our study was to explore clinical utility of lipid ratios to identify men and women with MetSy; and to explore the association between lipid ratios and the number of MetSy components.

Methods

Men and women (N = 797) of Aboriginal, Chinese, European, and South Asian origin (35–60 years), recruited across ranges of body mass index (BMI), with no diagnosed cardiovascular disease (CVD) or on medications to treat CVD risk factors were assessed for anthropometrics, family history of CVD, MetSy components (waist circumference, blood pressure, glucose, triglycerides (TG), high-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C)), low-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), nonHDL-C, and health-related behaviours.

Results

Mean levels of lipid ratios significantly increased with increasing number of MetSy components in men and women (p < 0.05). After adjustment for age, ethnicity, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, family history of CVD and BMI, (and menopausal status in women), all lipid ratios were associated with the number of MetSy components in men and women (Poisson regression, p < 0.001). Compared to the rest of the lipid ratios (ROC curve analysis), TG/HDL-C was best able to discriminate between individuals with and without MetSy (AUC = 0.869 (95% CI: 0.830, 0.908) men; AUC = 0.872 (95% CI: 0.832, 0.912) women). The discriminatory power of TC/HDL-C and nonHDL-C/HDL-C to identify individuals with MetSY was the same (for both ratios, AUC = 0.793 (95% CI: 0.744, 0.842) men; 0.818 (95% CI: 0.772, 0.864) women). Additionally, LDL-C/HDL-C was a good marker for women (AUC = 0.759 (95% CI: 0.706, 0.812)), but not for men (AUC = 0.689 (95% CI: 0.631, 0.748)). Based on a multiethnic sample, we identified TG/HDL-C cut-off values of 1.62 in men and 1.18 in women that were best able to discriminate between men and women with and without MetSY.

Conclusions

Our results indicate that TG/HDL-C is a superior marker to identify men and women with MetSy compared to TC/HDL-C, LDL-C/HDL-C, and nonHDL-C/HDL-C.

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The Association between "Hypertriglyceridemic Waist" And Sub-Clinical Atherosclerosis in a Multiethnic Population: A Cross-Sectional Study

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

"Hypertriglyceridemic waist" (HTGW) phenotype, an inexpensive early screening tool for detection of individuals at risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease was found to be associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in various patient populations such as those with diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, and those infected with human immunodeficiency virus. However, less is known regarding an association between HTGW and subclinical atherosclerosis in the apparently healthy, multiethnic population. Therefore, the aim of the study was to explore the association between HTGW and sub-clinical atherosclerosis in an apparently healthy, multiethnic population; and to investigate whether the effect of HTGW on sub-clinical atherosclerosis persists over and above the traditional atherosclerosis risk factors.

Methods

We studied 809 individuals of Aboriginal, Chinese, European and South Asian origin who were assessed for indices of sub-clinical atherosclerosis (intima-media thickness (IMT), total area and presence of carotid plaques), socio-demographic and lifestyle characteristics, anthropometrics, lipids, glucose, blood pressure, and family history of cardiovascular disease.

Results

We found that, compared to individuals without HTGW and after adjusting for age, ethnicity, smoking, and physical activity; men and women with HTGW had a significantly higher: IMT (men: B (95%CI = 0.084 (0.037, 1.133), p < 0.001; women: B (95%CI) = 0.041 (0.006, 0.077), p = 0.020); and total area (men: B (95%CI = 0.202 (0.058, 0.366), p = 0.005; women: B (95%CI) = 0.115 (0.006, 0.235), p = 0.037). The association between HTGW waist and presence of plaques was significant for men (OR (95%CI) = 1.904 (1.040, 3.486), p = 0.037 vs. men without HTGW), but not for women (p = 0.284). Once analyses were adjusted for additional, traditional risk factors for atherosclerosis, the effect of HTGW on sub-clinical atherosclerosis was no longer significant.

Conclusions

In conclusion, HTGW may serve as an early marker of subclinical atherosclerosis in men and women, irrespective of ethnicity. However, once individuals are assessed for all traditional risk factors for atherosclerosis, the additional assessment for HTGW is not warranted.

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Article
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A Novel Integration of Online and Flipped Classroom Instructional Models in Public Health Higher Education

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

In 2013, a cohort of public health students participated in a ‘flipped’ Environmental and Occupational Health course. Content for the course was delivered through NextGenU.org and active learning activities were carried out during in-class time. This paper reports on the design, implementation, and evaluation of this novel approach.

Methods

Using mixed-methods, we examined learning experiences and perceptions of the flipped classroom model and assessed changes in students' self-perceived knowledge after participation in the course. We used pre- and post-course surveys to measure changes in self-perceived knowledge. The post-course survey also included items regarding learning experiences and perceptions of the flipped classroom model. We also compared standard course review and examination scores for the 2013 NextGenU/Flipped Classroom students to previous years when the course was taught with a lecture-based model. We conducted a focus group session to gain more in-depth understanding of student learning experiences and perceptions.

Results

Students reported an increase in knowledge and survey and focus group data revealed positive learning experiences and perceptions of the flipped classroom model. Mean examination scores for the 2013 NextGenU/Flipped classroom students were 88.8% compared to 86.4% for traditional students (2011). On a scale of 1–5 (1 = lowest rank, 5 = highest rank), the mean overall rating for the 2013 NextGenU/Flipped classroom students was 4.7/5 compared to prior years’ overall ratings of 3.7 (2012), 4.3 (2011), 4.1 (2010), and 3.9 (2009). Two key themes emerged from the focus group data: 1) factors influencing positive learning experience (e.g., interactions with students and instructor); and 2) changes in attitudes towards environmental and occupation health (e.g., deepened interest in the field).

Conclusion

Our results show that integration of the flipped classroom model with online NextGenU courses can be an effective innovation in public health higher education: students achieved similar examination scores, but NextGenU/Flipped classroom students rated their course experience more highly and reported positive learning experiences and an increase in self-perceived knowledge. These results are promising and suggest that this approach warrants further consideration and research.

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