The Coffee Break 89

Our news updates this fortnight includes reports from the Kings Fund and the European Public Health Alliance; the Guardian discusses loneliness; looks at a collaboration of scientists from 37 countries in the exploration of cancer genomes and finally, from the BBC, the inspirational story of Uma Preman who raised funds for 20 kidney dialysis centres across India.

Change Management

Firstly this fortnight, The Kings Fund have published their report ‘The English local government public health reforms, An independent assessment”. The report was commissioned by the Local Government Association in order to understand the impact and implications of the 2013 public health reforms which transferred responsibility from the NHS for the commissioning and provision of some services to local government. Reviewing the impact of the reforms in the short and longer term, the report assesses the impact of the changes which has brought opportunities for innovation and integration as well as challenges.

Mental Health

Moving on, an article in the Guardian looks at the increasing epidemic of loneliness, “more than 2 million adults suffer from chronic loneliness; and although its most severe form is more prevalent among Britain’s oldest citizens, younger adults report loneliness more than any other group.” The Guardian opinions that the demise of close communities associated with industries such as mining or docks; the sale of council housing; the closure of working men’s clubs and falling church attendance has left society vulnerable to loneliness and isolation. Against this breaking of social ties, a small group based in a pub in South London, The Cares Family, brings together older locals and young professional by giving everyone a free drink whilst they get to know each other.

Every day for the last year, Josh Pike has got up and driven down to his local beach in Swansea and waded into the sea. Josh started his swimming challenge last year as a need to get into a routine to motivate himself. Recently 100s of people have joined Josh on his daily dips some of whom are struggling with their mental health. Joss comments “As soon as you hit the cold water you scream and chat and laugh with other people and the cold water doesn’t care about your problems, it just makes you feel good.” Read the entire article from the BBC.

Innovation reports on a huge international study cataloguing the genetic fingerprints of DNA-damaging processes that drive cancer development. “These fingerprints will allow scientists to search for previously unknown chemicals, biological pathways and environmental agents responsible for causing cancer.” The collaboration involves more than 1,300 scientists and clinicians from 37 countries and represents an unprecedented international exploration of cancer genomes.

Population Health

The European Public Health Alliance have published their paper investigating health disparities within the EU. Health discrepancies are determined by social and economic components such as education and housing, environmental hazards, living conditions, income, availability and affordability of services. The paper attempts to analyse the social and environmental determinants causing social and health disparities and proposes solutions that could facilitate the adoption of a new policy approach addressing the needs of socio-economic groups vulnerable to health disparities.

And finally this fortnight, the inspirational story of how Uma Preman’s unhappy marriage allowed her to transform her life and help disadvantaged Indians gain access to medical treatment.