There are many inspiring and thought-provoking movies about global health that highlight the very real crises faced today. The following movies about global health explore some of the most dire issues, including women’s health, AIDS, polio, the right to safe drinking water and the realities of providing medical treatment in conflict situations.

  1. Blue Gold. Water shortages are a very real concern. Access to clean drinking water is also a dire problem in many parts of the world, and the demand for water only increases as the world’s population increases. Blue Gold considers the ramifications of this as corporations, governments and militaries try to control the water supply and people fight back for the right to clean water.
  2. A Closer Walk. The film examines the devastation wrought by AIDS throughout the world. A Closer Walk is narrated by Glenn Close and Will Smith, it explores the effects of AIDS in different regions, and what it means to live with and to fight against AIDS.
  3. Grace Under Fire. This is a notable film addressing the health issues women face globally, particularly in conflict areas. Grace Under Fire focuses on the regional conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where half  a million women are reported to have been raped. Dr. Grace Kodindo, an advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights, is followed throughout this film as she talks to both medical professionals and regular people about the access to care for women in the DRC.
  4. Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders. Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, gave film crews permission for the first time in this documentary to film the doctors as they work in conflict areas. Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders provides an intense look at what it is like to provide medical care in emergency situations where violence is always a threat.
  5. Last Child: The Global Race to End Polio. Although polio has long been eradicated in developed countries, the fight continues in countries such as India, Nigeria and Haiti. Last Child: The Global Race to End Polio highlights the significant strides that have been made thus far. It also addresses the obstacles health workers have faced in eradicating polio, raising the question of whether the disease could spread again.

Each of these movies about global health provides a thought-provoking look at one of the major health crises affecting our planet today.

Katherine Hamblen

Photo: Flickr

The Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola recently made recommendations to prevent future global health crises based on the outcomes of the West African Ebola outbreak last year.

The outbreak killed over 11,000 people in 2014, including health workers. Experts blame the slow response, lack of leadership and lack of proper training for a large number of deaths caused by Ebola.

The panel’s report was published online by The Lancet, a medical journal. Here are their recommendations:

  • The global community should come up with a strategy for strengthening health systems, including funding to help developing countries do so.
  • The WHO should publicly commend countries that report disease outbreaks promptly and shame those that delay reporting. Financial incentives to compensate countries for losses linked to transparent disease reporting should be created.
  • The WHO should set up a permanent outbreak response center with a guaranteed budget. It should report directly to the director general.
  • The WHO should name a permanent emergency committee of experts to advise it on the threat posed by outbreaks. The committee should be able to convene itself and should consider adopting a graded system of warnings. Currently, emergency committees can only declare that something is or isn’t a global emergency.
  • The UN should create an independent accountability commission that assesses response to major disease outbreaks.

Photo: Pixabay

  • Governments, NGOs, the scientific community, and industry should develop rules for conducting research during an outbreak and a program for accelerating research between crises.
  • Research funders should set up a facility to finance development of vaccines, drugs, disease tests, and other medical necessities for diseases which the pharmaceutical industry won’t develop for on its own.
  • A global health committee should be set up as part of the UN Security Council to bring high-level attention to health issues and crises.
  • The WHO should return its focus to its core functions, concentrating on efforts that only the WHO can undertake.
  • The WHO’s executive board should establish a freedom of information policy; countries should stop earmarking the funding they provide the WHO, and countries should demand a WHO director general strong enough to stand up to the most powerful governments.

The proposed changes to responding to global health crises were categorized into five themes: preventing disease outbreaks, responding to outbreaks, monitoring and sharing data, garnering knowledge and technology through research and, lastly, global coordination to prevent and respond to outbreaks.

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: STAT, The Lancet, BBC
Photo: World Affairs