Addressing the gender gap in global health leadership – via Global Health, Epidemiology and Genomics

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This post was written by Pascale Allotey andoriginally posted on the Global Health, Epidemiology and Genomics blog – read more at:

In recognition of International Women’s Day 2016, GHEG is inviting submissions for a themed collection on Women in Global Health.

A core mission of global health is to achieve health equity for all people worldwide. Women, particularly in resource-limited settings, experience a disproportionate burden of disease and mortality due to inequities in access to basic health care, nutrition and education.(1) The imbalance in the health burden between genders is therefore a key focus, addressed by both the Millennium Development Goals and more recently, the Sustainable Development Goals.

However, despite this key goal to address gender inequities within the field of global health, women still occupy less than a quarter of global health leadership roles.(1) Ilona Kickbusch’s recent #WGH100 Twitter campaign to identify women leaders working at the forefront of global health, arose from a frustration with the lack of visibility of women in critical public spaces in the field.(2) Like other industries, the reasons for this imbalance include lack of opportunities, family commitments and lack of confidence. Whilst many institutions have attempted to address these issues, tackling the gender gap in leadership still requires a more proactive strategy.

This year’s theme for International Women’s day is Planet 50-50 by 2030: step it up for gender equality. The goal, spearheaded by UN Women, is to achieve gender equality in the next 15 years – by increasing investment in gender equality, striving for parity for women at all levels of decision-making, eliminating discriminatory legislation, and addressing social norms that perpetuate discrimination against women.(3)

The campaign for equality in leadership is important for reasons other than proportional representation. Research in several settings has shown that women in leadership positions are more likely than their male counterparts to invest in infrastructure and programmes that address women’s concerns.(1) Similarly, policies of women in leadership tend to be more responsive to the needs of women and children and recognise women’s responsibility for decision-making when it comes to the health of their families.(1, 2)

In an attempt to address and explore the issues surrounding gender and leadership in global health, GHEG will be publishing a themed collection on Women in Global Health. We invite submissions that explore, among other things, the current landscape, the potential reasons behind the current gender imbalance in global health roles, suggestions for practice and policy that can catalyse change, and descriptions of effective formal partnerships and campaigns on Women in Global Health. The deadline for this call is the 31st May 2016. To find out more visit:

1. Downs JA, Reif LK, Hokororo A, Fitzgerald DW. Increasing women in leadership in global health. Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. 2014;89(8):1103-7.
2. Devi S. Twitter campaign highlights top women in global health. Lancet (London, England). 2015;385(9965):318.
3. Press release: World leaders agree: We must close the gender gap [press release]. 2015.


Announcing the publication of the first papers in GHEG

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We are delighted to announce the publication of the first papers in Global Health, Epidemiology and Genomics. As GHEG is fully Open Access, these papers, and all papers published in the future, are freely accessible online. Here we provide a brief summary of our first three publications.

 A forum for global population health, technological advances and implementation science
 Manjinder Sandhu

A welcome editorial by our Editor in Chief, marking the launch of Global Health, Epidemiology and Genomics. Dr Sandhu highlights the strengths of the broad interdisciplinary scope of the journal and its international editorial board and invites the global health community to engage and contribute to the journal so that it becomes a valuable, practical and informative resource.
Read the full article here


favicon Study Profile: The Durban Diabetes Study (DDS): a platform for chronic disease research
 Thomas Hird et al.

A study profile of The Durban Diabetes Study (DDS), an on-going population-based cross-sectional survey of an urban black population in Durban, South Africa. The DDS was established to investigate a broad range of lifestyle, medical and genetic factors and their association with diabetes. It provides a rich platform for investigating the distribution, interrelation and aetiology of other chronic diseases and their risk factors, which can be utilised for other research studies.
Read the full article here


Favicon long Capitalizing on Natural Experiments in Low- to Middle- Income Countries to Explore Epigenetic Contributions to Disease Risk in Migrant Populations
 J. Jaime Miranda et al.


A commentary on the value of epigenetics as a tool for understanding differential disease risk in migrant populations. The authors highlight the merit of exploring migrant chronic disease risk in low- to middle-income countries, particularly in the context of rural-to-urban migration, with increasing urbanisation in this setting.
Read the full article here
More articles will be published in the coming weeks, and you can be notified when new articles are published by signing up to content alerts here. Here’s a preview of what’s coming soon:

  • H3Africa Multi-Centre Study of the Prevalence and Environmental and Genetic Determinants of Type 2 Diabetes in Sub-Saharan Africa: Study Protocol
    Kenneth Ekoru et al.
  • Regulatory Developments in the Conduct of Clinical Trials in India
    Dhvani Mehta and Ranjit Roy Chaudhury

GHEG accepts original research articles, brief reports, structured reviews and commentaries as well as protocols, research resources and analysis. We are waiving the Article Processing Charge for all articles submitted to GHEG before the end of 2016. We invite contributions from a range of disciplines:
Epidemiology, Clinical trials, Genetics, Observational studies, Qualitative studies, Anthropological studies, Social science, Community intervention, Health systems, Health services, Population genetics, Population history.
For further information on the journal and how to submit please visit our website. Or if you wish to submit your manuscript directly please visit:

Rethinking Mental Health in Latin America – via Global Health, Epidemiology and Genomics

Rethinking Mental Health v02 FINAL

Mental health disorders are a huge burden for health systems, particularly in low and middle income countries. A new research hub based in Sao Paulo and Lima is exploring the opportunity to use technology to tackle these disorders.

In 2010, mental and substance use disorders were responsible for the greatest number of years of life lost to ill health worldwide.(1) In 2012, the World Health Assembly officially recognised the major contribution of mental disorders to the global non-communicable disease burden.(2) It urged member states to develop a coordinated and comprehensive response towards mental health treatment through their health and social sectors. Worldwide a large treatment gap exists for mental health disorders, particularly in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Insufficient financial resources in LMICs results in inadequate numbers of trained personnel, and a high proportion of patients who do not receive care; 76-85% of people with severe mental health conditions do not receive treatment.(3)

The Latin American Treatment and Innovation Network in Mental Health (LATIN-MH) is a regional hub for research and training in mental health, based in Lima (CRONICAS), Sao Paulo, Chicago and London. Its aim is to find innovative solutions to address the treatment gaps that exist in mental health care. Although undoubtedly a difficult challenge, at CRONICAS we believe that to develop sustainable mental health interventions, health systems must adapt to scarce resources and health inequities, effectively building upon the existing context. We see LATIN-MH as a “disruptive innovation”: a new product that transforms and adds to traditional ones. This innovation is driven by three pillars: (i) building capacity to achieve sustainability, (ii) developing strategic interdisciplinary partnerships, and (iii) integrating effective mental health treatment into primary care and community health systems.

LATIN-MH combines the innovative use of task shifting and technology to address the mental health treatment gap. Task shifting at the level of healthcare providers and patients’ self-management has been successfully shown to increase child survival rates and maternal health.(4) Furthermore, the growing implementation of e-health and m-health interventions has played an important role in changing unhealthy habits or lifestyles.(5)

Our research component is centred on assessing the feasibility of using a technologically driven nurse assisted intervention (CONEMO) for people with co-morbid depression and diabetes/hypertension to reduce symptoms of depression. The intervention is a 6-week programme based on behavioural activation, an approach which works by engaging patients in activities that improve their mood. Implementing this smartphone application shifts tasks to nurses and smartphones by taking advantage of the huge mobile phone penetration in the region.(6) This is hugely important in settings where staff shortages exist. At the same time, the project builds research capacity within Peru and Brazil by providing a framework for hands-on mentoring and training for junior investigators who will form part of the new cohort of public health researchers. The success of the intervention is currently being evaluated.

We hope that this model will be sustainable and will help improve the management of mental health in the long-term in order to overcome the barriers preventing us from achieving universal access to mental health care and improved population mental wellbeing.

CRONICAS Center of Excellence in Chronic Diseases, supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Global Health Initiative under the contract ‘Global Health Activities in Developing Countries to Combat Non-Communicable Chronic Diseases’.

1. Whiteford HA, Degenhardt L, Rehm J, Baxter AJ, Ferrari AJ, Erskine HE, et al. Global burden of disease attributable to mental and substance use disorders: findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet (London, England). 2013;382(9904):1575-86.
2. WHO (World Health Organisation). The global burden of mental disorders and the need for a comprehensive, coordinated response from health and social sectors at the country level. Geneva: WHO, 2012.
3. WHO (World Health Organisation). 10 facts on mental health 2014 [cited 2015]. Available from:
4. Lewin S, Munabi-Babigumira S, Glenton C, Daniels K, Bosch-Capblanch X, van Wyk BE, et al. Lay health workers in primary and community health care for maternal and child health and the management of infectious diseases. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. 2010(3):Cd004015.
5. WHO (World Health Organisation). mHealth: New horizons for health through mobile technologies: second global survey on eHealth. Geneva: WHO, 2011.
6. GSMA Intelligence. The Mobile Economy; Latin America 2014. London: 2014.


This post was originally posted on the Global Health, Epidemiology and Genomics blog – read more at:

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