An Overview of the Malaria Epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa

Author: Sandra M. Konji


Malaria is a parasitic disease that is transmitted by mosquitos during their blood meal. The risk of contracting malaria is highest for people in tropical countries, due to the ever-present humid weather that allows yearly infections. Consequently, sub-Saharan Africa has a disproportionately higher rate of death among women and children with malaria. One of the major barriers identified in the efficacy of malaria treatment and prevention is the lack of health education and literacy. The lack of health education has decreased the efficacy of antimalarial drugs, such as Artemether Lumefantrine, due to the distribution and administration of the drug by untrained persons. The lack of incidence and prevalence data makes it difficult to ensure adequate supply of the drug in endemic countries. Furthermore, the lack of knowledge of malaria pathogenesis and transmission has prevented many from promptly seeking treatment and practicing preventative care methods. Recently, the implementation of health education programs by international organizations has allowed local and travelling healthcare practitioners to be educated on the disease and methods of antimalarial drug administration.

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The Development of Scoring Criteria for a New Picture Naming Task

Authors: Ferzin MahavaChristine SheppardLaura MonettaVanessa Taler


Objective: The purpose of the study was to develop a scoring system for a novel naming task suitable for assessing naming performance in younger (18-30 years) and older (65+ years) adults in monolingual English, monolingual French, and English-French bilingual groups. This novel naming task will serve as an important health service to help diagnose and assess cognitively impaired older individuals, while also serving as an educational tool for healthcare providers.

Materials and Methods: The Naming Task consists of 120 images organized in the same randomized order, and are shown on a white background displayed on a computer screen using PowerPoint. Participants are instructed to name the image displayed. Monolinguals completed the test in their native language and bilinguals completed the test in English only, French only, and a bilingual administration. Scoring criteria was established based on the responses from testing.

Results: Strict and lenient scoring criteria developed for the Naming Task are presented. Eight items were removed from the original Naming Task due to quality and/or clarity, inability to name the image, or too many alternate responses. Performance in mono-lingual English and French was similar in younger and older adults for strict and lenient scoring. Bilinguals performed better with bilingual administration and worse with French administration, where scores were the lowest of all age and language groups.

Conclusion: The Naming Task appears to be suitable for monolingual French and English individuals. Results suggest that a bilingual administration should be used when testing English-French bilinguals.

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Transmission of Human Papillomavirus Without Sexual Contact

Authors: Naweed Ahmed, Wakqas Kayani, Sahab Jamshidi, Suneil Bapat, Ahmed ImamovicPanteha Tavassol


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. There are four common HPV strains: 6, 11, 16, and 18. Strains 6 and 11 cause genital warts, while strains 16 and 18 are asymptomatic in males and may progress to cervical cancer in females. Although uncommon, a small percentage of males and females have been diagnosed with HPV without previous sexual contact. In this case report, we discuss a case conducted on a 15-year-old South Asian male who contracted an unknown low-risk strain of HPV with no history of sexual contact. HPV is highly infectious, however in the majority of cases the immune system is able to clear the infection, preventing the appearance of genital warts. In cases such as these, it is important to help control the spread of viral infections. Several determinants of health are involved in and affect the trans-mission of HPV, including income and social status, social support networks, education and literacy, culture, social and physical environments, and health services. To aid in the prevention of HPV, sexual education should be taught at early ages within schools and the Gardasil® vaccine should be administered to both females and males at an early age to reduce the burden of disease and the incidence of HPV.

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Storytelling and Asperger Syndrome: A Key for Social Integration

Author: Alain Nathan Sahin


Storytelling is a universal way of communication between human beings. It is inhibited when neurodevelopmental disorders hinder human reciprocity, the understanding of body language, and nuances of language. Asperger Syndrome (AS), one of these disorders, is characterized by social impairment and repetitive patterns of behaviour. Messages cannot be conveyed through storytelling, which causes social isolation and withdrawal of individuals with AS from society. The development of the mirror neuron system in the brain, which incites imitation of peers, might be altered in AS by a mechanism that is not entirely understood. Because mirroring the emotions of others is key to understanding their feelings and perceptions of the world, the “theory of mind” is not formed in individuals with AS as it normally would be. While studies have suggested this impediment, current views and evidence show that people with AS may use storytelling as a powerful tool to integrate themselves into society. Future research should investigate storytelling as an intervention to increase social interaction of individuals with AS.

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Climate Change and Health Inequities: Contribution of the Interventional Approach in Population Health in a Quebec Context

Authors: David Buetti, Rana Annous

(The article is available in French only)


In a globalized world, climate change is yet another complex problem faced by public health. This article explores the consequences of climate change on vulnerable populations and the measures to mitigate them from an interventional perspective in population health, in a Quebec context. A literature review was conducted using seven databases related to disciplines in social sciences, health sciences and environment. Given the contribution of non-government agencies to population health, the literature review was complemented by reports from activist and community organizations. Results show that many sectors can collaborate with public health agencies and community-based organizations to reduce climate change and health inequities. In Quebec, three fields of activity seem especially promising: territorial development in urban settings, sustainable transport and mobility, and urban and suburban agriculture.  Arguing for a social ecological framework and a multisectoral collaboration, interventions focused on population health mitigate the consequences of climate change on social and health inequities. Some challenges and research avenues linked to their implementation and continuation are discussed.

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Critique of a Community-Based Population Health Intervention in a First Nations Community: Public Health and Medical Anthropology Perspectives

Author: Selim M. Khan


Launched as a community-based partnership endeavour, the Sandy Lake Health and Diabetes Project (SLHDP) aimed to prevent diabetes in a First Nations community (FNC) in Northern Ontario. With active engagement of the key stakeholders, SLHDP conducted a series of studies that explored public health needs, priorities, and the contexts. These led to the adoption of a variety of culturally appropriate health interventions, addressing several health determinants such as health education, physical environments, nutrition, personal health practices, health services, and FNC culture. SLHDP built reciprocal capacity for both the community stakeholders and academic partners, thus evolved as a model of population health intervention. The school components are being scaled-up in other parts of FNCs in Canada. This paper presents a critique from public health and medical anthropology perspectives and draws evidence-based recommendations on how such programs can do better.

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A Healthcare Lesson: Comparing Chaoulli v. Quebec (2005) and Cambie Surgery Centre v. British Columbia (2016)

Publicly insured healthcare in Canada, also known as Medicare, is currently being reviewed in a judicial case in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The lawsuit filed by Cambie Surgery Centre is calling for allowing “medically necessary services” – those covered by public insurance – to be privately insured in order to improve access to care. Health services researchers, policy makers and citizens alike, are worried of the outcome of this 8-month provincial trial, as it is suggested that an outcome in favour of Cambie’s position would lead to a complete overhaul of Canada’s public healthcare system. In the midst of heated debates, we tend to forget that just over a decade ago, a similar legal battle challenging the extent of public insurance in Canada occurred in the province of Quebec. How are these two cases similar or different? What are the implications of each? What are lessons that can be learnt?

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Call for Bloggers

The RISS-IJHS is currently looking for students and researchers interested in contributing original content to the IJHS Blog. The ideal candidate should be able to produce monthly articles that are equally informative and stimulating, and will generate conversation among the health science community.

Blog posts must be:

  • Written in either French or English;
  • Between 300-800 words (although word count is flexible depending on the subject matter);
  • Written in accessible language to reach a wider audience.

Topics/ideas include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing and creating article series (e.g. healthcare financing in Canada – a retrospective, etc.);
  • Commenting on recent study releases, other academic journals and blogs (e.g. OECD, WHO, UNICEF and MSF);
  • Commenting on current news and events;
  • Interacting with readers by launching poll surveys, asking questions about issues, collecting opinion pieces, etc.

How to apply:

If this interests you, please send a brief summary of who you are (your motivation for doing this, writing/blogging /website experience, links to any current blogs you may have) along with a sample blog post to

We look forward to hearing from you!

Choice in childbirth: VBAC

Childbirth is a ubiquitous experience among mothers. Birth can occur in many ways, from medication-free natural labour, to cesarean section. Mothers in Canada can, for the most part, choose how they want to deliver. However, women with a prior cesarean section have a more difficult choice to make. They can choose to have a repeat cesarean section, or to attempt a vaginal birth after cesarean – a VBAC. How do women make this decision, and how can healthcare providers support them?

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Coffee Does Not Cause Cancer, but Hot Drinks Might

Coffee drinkers can sip a little easier now that the World Health Organization has downgraded coffee’s cancer risk. Due to inadequate evidence and inconsistent findings, consumers no longer need to worry about their morning cup of Joe. In fact, drinking coffee may actually protect consumers from several chronic diseases.

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