Eliminating HIV and hepatitis B & C by 2030; what Trump means for public health; we’re getting fatter and sicker; and more from Day 1 of the World Congress on Public Health

Monday 3 April 2017

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  • Public health – enemies of the people?
  • Poor need not = unhealthy, making the world fairer through policies on eating, chronic disease and trade
  • Is President Trump’s stand on free trade agreements good for public health
  • We’re getting fatter and sicker
  • Self-governance and health for Indigenous peoples

Monday 3 April 2017, Melbourne Convention Centre
Researchers at the 15th World Congress on Public Health available for interview from Monday 3 April

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‘Enemies of the people’: public health in the era of populist politics and media – Martin McKee, past president European Public Health Association

Public health has transformed the world. We have longer and healthier lives. Roads, work, food are all safer. So why are populist politicians and media portraying public health leaders as ‘enemies of the people’ asks Martin McKee.

They are rejecting scientific evidence and replacing it with fake news. Public health has a duty to speak truth to power. It can also help explain the rise of these forces including evidence that declining health was the strongest predictor of the shift in votes to Donald Trump. But public health is not always on the side of the angels, especially in 1930s Germany.

We are living in dangerous times, with some of the leading countries in the world led by politicians who are both dangerous and grossly incompetent. Yet there is hope. We have been here before. We must ensure that this time public health is on the right side.

Martin McKee is Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The poorest 20 per cent of Australians are most likely to be unhealthy – we can change that

“The world is an inherently unfair place—and that has consequences for your health,” says Professor Sharon Friel from ANU.

Beyond simple bugs and broken bones, health problems are also influenced by the circumstances in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. Australian National University researcher Sharon Friel wants to break these ‘social determinants of health’. She will share a case study of how national policies can encourage healthy and equitable eating, helping to prevent chronic disease; explain how international trade agreements can have health consequences, and discuss a vision for a fair; sustainable and healthy world.

Sharon has advised the WHO and the Rockefeller Foundation on health equity.

The fifth of Australia’s adult population in the lowest socioeconomic status bracket is also the group most likely to be regular smokers, to do little or no exercise, to be overweight and to have high blood pressure. Could it be due to poorer access to healthy food? Or living in car-dependent outer suburbs that don’t encourage walking?

How to eliminate HIV and hepatitis B and C

Chronic diseases kill more than 38 million people a year and are the leading cause of premature death and disability in Australia. Despite all our efforts to encourage people to live more healthily, we’re getting fatter and sicker. Andrew Wilson will lead the World Leaders Dialogue session ‘Exploring systems approaches to chronic disease prevention’, with presentations and discussion with international and national leaders in health policy and research in new ways to tackle this wicked problem.

Self-governance and health for indigenous peoples of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA

While the Indigenous cultures in the four countries are different in some obvious and critical ways, they also share key commonalities in their colonial heritages and challenges in addressing development needs. Through collaboration and sharing of new thinking and innovative processes Indigenous peoples can address their contemporary needs and aspirations. Michelle will draw on case studies that show how investment in cultural based models of government will create diverse and effective Indigenous Nations and communities.

Michelle Deshong is a global leader in governance. She’s completeing a PhD at James Cook University in Townsville and draws her connection to the Kuku Yulanji Nation.

Other speakers/topics/stats from day one, Monday, at the World Congress on Public Health

  • Medicine is a social science and politics is nothing more but medicine on a grand scale. What does that mean in 2017? Dr Ilona Kickbusch, Global Health Centre, Geneva, 12 noon, The Plenary
  • What can we learn from past global pandemics to be ready for the next one? – Raina Macintyre, UNSW
  • Sex after 65: Sexual activity and physical tenderness in older adults - Rosanne Freak-Poli, Monash University
  • Are celebrities bad for your health? Stars in food and beverage advertising – Vivica Kraak, Virginia Tech
  • Up, Up and Away with Superhero Foods: Developing nutrition resources for school aged children – Jennifer Tartaglia, Foodbank WA
  • Stopping mothers, children and adolescents dying young (six million preventable young deaths last year), Judy Lewis, University of Connecticut
  • Could Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership be good for public health? Deborah Gleeson, LaTrobe University

The 15th World Congress on Public Health is on from 3 to 7 April at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

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