Intervention studies for improving global health and health care: An important arena for epidemiologists
AbstractMarginalised populations in many low- and middle-income countries experience an increasing burden of disease, in sub-Saharan Africa to a large extent due to faltering health systems and serious HIV epidemics. Also other poverty related diseases (PRDs) are prevalent, especially respiratory and diarrhoeal diseases in children, malnutrition, maternal and perinatal health problems, tuberculosis and malaria. Daily, nearly 30,000 children under the age of 5 die, most from preventable causes, and 8,000 people die from HIV infections. In spite of the availability of powerful preventive and therapeutic tools for combating these PRDs, their implementation, especially in terms of equitable delivery, leaves much to be desired. The research community must address this tragic gap between knowledge and implementation. Epidemiologists have a very important role to play in conducting studies on diseases that account for the largest share of the global disease burden. A shift of focus of epidemiologic research towards intervention studies addressing health problems of major public health importance for disadvantaged population groups is needed. There is a need to generate an evidence-base for interventions that can be implemented on a large scale; this can result in increased funding of health promotion programs as well as enable rational prioritization and integration between different health interventions. This will require close and synergetic teamwork between epidemiologists and other professions across disciplines and sectors. In this way epidemiologists can contribute significantly to improve health and optimise health care delivery for marginalized populations.
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