Book on public health recalls past crises and warns of future ones

Book on public health recalls past crises and warns of future ones

O This book, which includes the contribution of specialists from different areas, such as doctors Constantino Sakellarides, Raquel Duarte or psychiatrist José Caldas de Almeida, is the first volume of a collection of public health that will be launched based on the work of the newly created Portuguese Society of Public Health, chaired by Francisco George.

Entitled “Public Health in Portugal – From the 19th century to the new ‘millennium’ to the future”, it will be launched on Monday at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in Lisbon.

“It is a collective work that reflects the history of Public Health from its beginnings, in 1850, and that goes into the new millennium, to the present day, but continues into the future in terms of anticipating what will happen in the next generations,” Francisco George told Lusa news agency.

In this volume, he added, the public health problems that have arisen in Portugal since 1850 are described and analysed, namely the epidemics of cholera, yellow fever, but also typhus, the plague at the turn of the century, in Porto, in 1899, to aids and covid-19.

The former director-general of Health highlighted the “very significant” evolution of Public Health, commenting that “today’s problems are different from the problems of 150 years ago and naturally they will be different in 150 years”.

“There is a whole evolution that has to be anticipated in order to be able to protect the health of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and this volume deals exactly with that situation”, he stressed.

To this end, argue the specialists in the book, “it is necessary to observe, first of all, as a major principle: Do nothing today if it harms the health of those who come next. long life with quality and health”.

“It is a question of inheritance that those of today leave to those of tomorrow. A legacy that depends, above all, on the choices made by citizens and by the rulers who represent them”, they maintain.

They also warn that “like the polluting gases that affect the entire planet, a focus of communicable disease, in a remote village in any country, can also assume pandemic characteristics. Therefore, it is necessary to act and think on planet Earth”.

“The policies, the measures taken by each sector, must, in advance, equate the eventuality of generating risks for the future, even if they benefit the present”, they also warn.

Asked about the lessons that the covid-19 pandemic left for the future, Francisco George said that “Portugal must always be prepared for any new phenomena that may happen with a pandemic expression, but which represent risks in Portugal”.

“And for that reason, in terms of a contingency plan, it is not only necessary to design this plan, but above all to mobilize means that are already capable, in case of need, of ensuring the implementation of what the plan foresees”, he said, warning that it was not it can “ignore the probability, which is very high, that other similar problems of a viral nature will arise”.

In the chapter ‘Challenges for the future. A new era’, the experts talk about the advances achieved such as the transformation of AIDS into a chronic disease by means of innovative therapy, the cure for hepatitis C or new biological drugs for cancer, but they point out that these advances are “neither the last nor sufficient to win future challenges”.

“We need to go further. Antibiotics are at risk, due to the spread of resistant bacteria, namely associated with the provision of health care. Resistance becomes of interest to infectious diseases, whether caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or protozoa. They constitute one of the most important duels with the future”, they warn in the book.

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