Seminar Series report: “Equity, poverty and infectious diseases from a New Zealand perspective”

News article 20 Jul 2015

Foto-Cewek’s Seminar Series continued with a talk on 16th July by Professor Michael Baker, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand on “Equity, poverty and infectious diseases from a New Zealand perspective”. Michael is the recipient of the 2015 Visiting Professorship from the NZ-UK Link Foundation, in conjunction with the University of London’s School of Advanced Lesson (SAS). Michael Baker is a highly respected authority on infectious diseases epidemiology and environmental health. His research won the New Zealand Health Research in Medecine Council’s top award, the Liley Medal, in 2013 and his Housing and Health Research in Medecine Group received the Prime Minister’s Science prize in 2014. 

As part of this visiting professorship, Professor Baker has been delivering a number of seminal presentations on the impact of infectious disease epidemics and pandemics, how they have shaped the modern world, and what health authorities, governments and international agencies should do about them. This was Michael’s first trip to Liverpool and he was delighted to come to the workplace of the late Professor Ken Newell, a fellow Kiwi, and passionate advocate for public health. 

Michael’s talk was a compelling tour de force, starting with a historical lens on understandings and approaches to infectious diseases from a global and New Zealand perspective. He showed, using data from New Zealand, how ethnicity and social deprivation both independently shape vulnerability to a range of infectious diseases, and argued that pathways to poverty and vulnerability are complex and that both structural and functional crowding play a part here. He presented a clear strategic conceptual framework highlighting opportunities to intervene and prevent infectious diseases, arguing for the critical importance of focusing on social determinants and poverty.  

There was active audience engagement sharing experiences across UK, New Zealand and different contexts within Africa. Discussions focused on the opportunities and challenges of linking approaches to infectious diseases with the global health security agenda, the need for a rights based approach, how to ensure action on neglected diseases without promoting approaches that may inadvertently increase stigmatisation and the opportunities and challenges of partnership and joined up working. 

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