Blog Posts

An inclusive approach to Human Papilloma Virus vaccination: the case for gender neutral vaccination in Canada 


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually-transmitted infection among Canadians (1). The causal link between specific serotypes of HPV and cervical cancer is well-established (2). HPV infections lead to more than 500,000 cases of cervical cancer worldwide each year (3), and have motivated a strong research campaign to develop rigorous screening tests and prophylactic HPV vaccines (2).

By: Sabrina Bartolucci, Lilia Brahimi, Allison Hecht, Jasmine Li-Brubacher, Natasha Leblanc, Geneviève Mailhot, Janna Shapiro, and Chelsey Weir

Website Update… June 19, 2018

Summer brings many changes! This Summer 2018, the Prognosis hopes to update its website with the latest journal publications, blog posts and more information on how you can get involved. Keep your eyes open for more information starting in Fall 2018.

Thank you,

The Prognosis

Vol 6: Dengvaxia®: The World’s First Dengue Vaccine


Dengue fever is considered a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD), as it both affects predominantly resource-limited countries and supports the need for increased research and development (R&D) (1). The situation has become critical given that transmission of dengue has increased in both frequency and magnitude, as well as has expanded to new areas. However, over the last two decades, dengue R&D has grown extensively, particularly in the vaccine division of the pharmaceutical company Sanofi, which has led to the development of the world’s first dengue vaccine: Dengvaxia®. Concerns have now surfaced regarding the vaccine’s efficiency, specifically amongst children younger than 9 years of age, and in low-transmission areas. Therefore, the creation of Dengvaxia® is not the final step towards the eradication of dengue. R&D must not only continuously seek an improved version of Dengvaxia®, but should also consider other dengue vaccine candidates, and improve distribution of the vaccine in all affected countries.

By:  Jeffery Sauer, Siyi He, Kavya Anchuri, Juliana Fanous, Catherine Labasi-Sammartino, Hicham Lahlou, Alice Legrand

Vol 6: Taiwan’s Ban on the Marketing of Junk Food to Children


Childhood obesity in Taiwan, as in Canada and many other countries, has been steadily increasing in recent years (,). To address this problem, Taiwan’s Ministry of Health banned the marketing of junk food on television to children in January 2016. This paper examines the implementation of Taiwan’s law, and offers observations on the food industry’s response to the law. Three distinct behaviors of the food industry in Taiwan were observed. First, in May 2016, fast-food corporations marketed few food groups. Second, McDonald’s adapted their marketing strategy. Third, McDonalds improved the nutritional content of the Happy Meal.

By: Aleksandra Pruszynska

Antenatal Care: A Success Story? The (In)Effectiveness of Antenatal Care in Reducing Maternal Mortality and Promoting Maternal Health in Developing Countries


Antenatal care (ANC) is considered a success story in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), as its uptake is very high. This paper aims to assess its effectiveness to reduce maternal mortality and promote maternal health in LMIC. Facility-based deliveries attended by skilled personnel are required. Focused on counseling, ANC could lead to facility-based delivery, but socioeconomic and cultural factors, and the quality and accessibility of services determine its uptake. A package of evidence-based interventions during ANC reduces maternal mortality and morbidity. ANC provides a platform to address social problems such as gender violence as well. Despite the opportunities ANC represents, challenges are found at client, workforce and health system levels.

By: Ran van der Wal, Mary Taleh, Liliane Mulinda

Dietary Structure and Relative Health in Inuit Communities


Nutrition is an important contributor to an individual’s health. Over the past 50 years, there has been a considerable shift in the diet of indigenous communities, from one which is highly dependent on hunted and gathered food to one that is more reliant on commercial foods. This paper examines the so-called “dietary transition” and the manner in which it has influenced health in Inuit communities. Recent research has shown an increase in consumption of fats from processed foods, which are high in trans-fatty acids, lack key micronutrients found in animals, and contribute to high LDL cholesterol. Consequently, there has been an increase in the incidence of obesity and its co-morbidities, and thus an increase in diet-related chronic disease. Additionally, issues with the dietary transition are compounded for individuals of low socioeconomic status.

By: Shariss Ostrager

Marijuana and Madness: The Etiology, Evolution, and Clinical Expression of Psychoses


Throughout the world, cannabis is the most widely consumed illicit drug (EMCDDA, 2008). Dramatic increases in cannabis consumption have been observed in the last 30 years, possibly due to increased social acceptance and legalization in some areas (UNODC, 2012). There has also been a substantial decline in the initial age of use, with overall use remaining primarily linked to youth between the ages of 15 and 25. In 2012, the yearly prevalence of cannabis use among the general population was approximately 5% (UNODC, 2012). However, rates among people with psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, remain consistently 5-10 times higher than the normal population, and the reason for this is unknown (Degenhardt, Hall & Linskey, 2003).

Developed countries are the main consumers of cannabis (see Figure 1). According to the Canadian Addiction Survey (2004), almost half the population (44.5%) has used cannabis in their lifetime and the rate in Quebec (46.4), is slightly higher than the national average. Assuming that prevalence rates will not change significantly over the next few decades, demographic trends suggest that the total number of cannabis users could, in accordance with population growth, increase significantly. Given its prevalence, there is little wonder why cannabis has become so controversial, dividing opinion among policymakers, researchers, law enforcers, and consumers alike (UNODC, 2012).

By: Kaitlyn Enright

Treatment of Schistosomiasis in Africa


Schistosomiasis is part of a group of diseases that generally afflict the poorer regions of the world. These diseases are collectively called neglected tropical diseases because historically, little funding has been put into researching cures or treating the afflicted population; instead, efforts have been focused on more fatal diseases, such as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria (WHO, 2013). Schistosomiasis is caused by tropical flatworms whose larvae enter the body directly through the skin and develop into reproducing adult worms (Thétiot-Laurent et al., 2013). The body’s reaction to the worms’ eggs results in chronic “abdominal pain, diarrhea, and blood in the stool,” which, over time, causes permanent damage to the vital organs of the body (WHO, 2013). Although schistosomiasis has a low mortality rate, severe economic and health consequences arise from this debilitating disease; it impairs growth and cognitive development in children and decreases productivity and quality of life in adults (WHO, 2013). Over 90% of cases are found in Africa, affecting over 200 million people (Steinmann et al., 2006; Utzinger et al., 2009) and causing more than 200,000 deaths each year (WHO, 2013). This number is likely to be an underestimation since lighter infections may not be detected by current diagnostic methods (King, 2010). These factors make schistosomiasis a significant global health issue.

In recent years, more and more people have become aware of neglected tropical diseases, and both donors and governments have started to invest money and research efforts to treat schistosomiasis on a global scale. International organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), have also coordinated efforts to implement treatment in various African countries. In 2002, the WHO passed Resolution WHA 54.19, aimed at decreasing the number of children infected by schistosomiasis by 75%. Although this target has not been achieved, some progress has been made. A decade later, the WHO passed Resolution WHA 65.21 to encourage governments to intensify the control of schistosomiasis by calling countries with lower transmission rates into action (WHO, 2013). The development of praziquantel, a safe and effective drug for treating schistosomiasis, has accelerated these efforts (Stothard et al., 2009). It has been included in a rapid impact package of several drugs, used in mass drug implementation campaigns that have been met with considerable success (Rollinson et al., 2013). However, issues arise as to what future course of action should be taken to build on this success and strive towards elimination of the disease altogether. For sustainable control of schistosomiasis, morbidity control programs should continue to be used in the short-term, but they should be complemented and eventually replaced by environmental measures in the long-term.

By: Junyi Mei


Taming the Tide: Stories from India


This paper examines an innovative sanitary pad manufacturing process in India that uses machines staffed by local women. In considering its financial viability, we assess whether the intervention — based on a social entrepreneurship model — adequately addresses the economic and social challenges of menstrual hygiene management in rural regions of the developing world.

By: Claire Bentley, Vanessa Brombosz, Sofianne Gabrielli, Ga Eun Lee, Vaidehi Nafade, Lindsay Steele, Muhammed Wali