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Public health

Panos London has a 20-year record of innovative communication work in the field of HIV and AIDS. We will continue this work, but also use our insights and experience to address other public health issues. In particular, we focus on uncovering and tackling the social challenges to health that affect the developing world, by:

  • Raising awareness of the importance of involving poor and marginalised groups in public health decisions about services aimed at them
  • Increasing knowledge of effective methods of working with hard-to-reach groups to support them in communicating their experiences and priorities
  • Enabling those affected by key health conditions to influence policy processes
  • Ensuring that experience and learning from different countries is shared by all.

Twenty years experience

Since we first drew attention to the implications of AIDS in developing countries in the late 1980s (see AIDS in the Third World), we have established an unparalleled record in raising awareness of, promoting discussion around, and stimulating responses to the social causes and consequences of HIV and AIDS.

Our reports and policy analysis strengthen communication thinking and practice. For example, the international community has pledged to provide universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010. But to do this, we argue, countries must explicitly incorporate effective communication into their plans (see Breaking barriers).

We have developed and adopted a ‘communication for social change’ approach with our partners that goes beyond the narrowly-focused, but still widespread emphasis on individual ‘behaviour change’ (see Missing the message). We want to address the social and cultural aspects of HIV and AIDS – such as stigma and discrimination – and to support those affected to set their own agenda and to inform national epidemic responses.

We are well-known for our work with mainstream media, which helps to ensure that the experiences of people living with HIV are heard more widely. And we are also exploring innovative techniques that support the expression and involvement of those most affected by the disease. Such participatory approaches include oral testimony and a growing range of small, new media initiatives that enable people living with HIV to communicate on their own terms.

A public health network

We also believe that reflection on practice, evidence and research is vital to promote more effective programming. We facilitate learning and discussion networks on key aspects of communication among HIV and AIDS practitioners and policymakers.

Our work is greatly strengthened by collaborating with other Panos institutes in Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean, North America and Europe through the Panos Global AIDS Programme.

We are addressing the health needs of marginalised groups by ensuring they are at the heart of decision making processes relating to their health

Selected Public health project

Relay: Communicating research


Academic research makes a crucial contribution to development but too often findings are kept within the research community. The media can play a part in communicating this knowledge.

Public health publications

Reporting health research

This case study shares recommendations and details the lessons learned during a communications project to improve media reporting on tuberculosis (TB) in Zambia.

Seen and heard

Children have a key role in supporting families and communities affected by HIV and AIDS, yet their views and contributions are often ignored. This paper examines issues in children’s participation in responses to HIV and AIDS.

From words to action

Part of the Growing pains series, this paper challenges policymakers to find practical means to support children in the face of poverty and AIDS.

Sexual health services for adolescents

Many young people worldwide face obstacles in accessing sexual and reproductive health information and services. Here a Panos London editor offers an insight into some of the areas to explore around the issue.

Start the press

African migrants account for the greatest number of new HIV diagnoses in the UK. By speaking out they can help counter discrimination and stigma.

Good choice: the right to sexual and reproductive health

Access to sexual and reproductive health services is vital in preventing unnecessary  deaths of men and women. Yet around the world, governments and health organisations do not prioritise spending on these services.

What the papers aren’t saying

Despite being the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, this study shows that media coverage of TB remains minimal or non-existent.  

Speaking freely, being strong

Social movements have brought energy, vitality and self-defined change to local, national and international responses to HIV and AIDS. 

Breaking barriers around HIV and AIDS

Without a paradigm shift in development and communication practice, universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support will remain elusive.

We are one but we are many

This paper weaves together recent research about social movements, public debate and communication, making the case for analysing social movements within communications and social change frameworks.

Time for action on TB communication

Many logistical and medical components of the global response to tuberculosis (TB) are robust. The communication part isn’t. This briefing outlines why communication should be central to the TB agenda. 

Reporting AIDS

Despite significant obstacles, a huge response has been mounted to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa. This report assesses how the role of the media could be improved. 

Missing the message?

More money and political interest is being directed towards AIDS than ever before. But is today's response to the pandemic learning from the lessons of the past?

Patents, pills and public health

An introduction to the issues surrounding the international agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and public health. 

Critical challenges in HIV communication

This paper argues that the history of the AIDS pandemic provides us with clear guidelines for future action.

Combat AIDS

A report aimed at policy and decision makers, international, regional and national NGOs working in the areas of HIV/AIDS, the military and/or conflict. 

Young men and HIV

This report argues that AIDS-prevention programmes must target young men as well as young women because their behaviour and attitude to risk will have a significant influence on the epidemic. 

Governing our cities

How should city governments balance the need to improve life for their poorest citizens with that of creating the infrastructure necessary to stimulate economic growth? 

Beyond our means?

The issues surrounding access to antiretroviral drugs in the developing world.

No paradise yet

A collection of 12 reports by women journalists from developing countries on women’s reproductive rights and sexual health.

Diagnosing challenges

Exploring the links between poverty and health in the new millennium.

Young lives at risk

For many young people, adolescence is a healthy transition period. But the health and lives of a large number of teenagers are in danger from sexually transmitted disease.

Greed or need?

An overview of the debate over genetically modified crops and the need for accurate and understandable information on the issue.

AIDS and men

An overview of the relationship between men and HIV/AIDS, particularly in the developing world.

Women’s health

An assessment of progress made since the 1994 UN International Conference on Population and Development which placed reproductive health within the context of human rights.

Public health blog posts & features

Q&A with Javie Ssozi of Uganda Speaks

Uganda Speaks gives Ugandans a platform to tell their side of the story as well giving people a chance to highlight stories of positive change. Founder Javie Ssozi spoke to Lilly Peel, about KONY2012 and about how mobiles and social media are giving people the power to tell their own story.

Living with HIV in Africa: personal stories

Aliness Munyanta is HIV positive but her daughter is not, thanks to drugs that help prevent mother to child transmission - Richard Mulonga | Panos London

What does it mean to live with HIV and AIDS in the developing world? With the International AIDS Conference in full swing this week, we have put together a collection of stories and first-person accounts from courageous men and women in Africa who are tackling their HIV status.

Indian men increasingly opt to be sterilised

Jag Roshan Sharma wanted a vasectomy in order to pay his children’s school fees. The choice to limit the family sizes is increasingly common and cash incentives are offered to women living below the poverty line to use birth control.

Family planning: a collection of perspectives

Sierra Leone: Traditional birth attendant, Isatu Kargbo, examines a pregnant woman - Jenny Matthews | Panos Pictures

With the London Summit on Family Planning this Wednesday, we wanted to showcase some of the decisions and dilemmas people around the world face when it comes to sexual health and planning a family.

Improving healthcare for the seldom heard

Beyond Consultation - Andrew Testa | Panos London

This week the NHS Confederation debates how to include marginalised voices in improving services, with help from Panos London’s Clodagh Miskelly.

HIV, discrimination and Islam

Siphiwe Hlophe, founder of Swaziland Positive Living, stands next to a giant elevated ribbon, made with over 6,000 red flowers representing the number of people that die every day of AIDS related illnesses - Steve Forrest | Panos Pictures

One woman living with HIV talks about the importance of her faith in living with her condition and the challenges of tackling stigma and discrimination amongst Muslims.

‘I was born a Leo’

I was born a Leo - Panos London

An interview and photography slideshow looking at one woman’s experience about trying to find work while living with HIV. She describes the feeling of vulnerability that she encounters, even in such innocuous situations as taking a bus ride.

Discrimination at the clinic

Tell us about the first time you went to get tested - Panos London

A young African gay man talks about what happens when you go to get tested for HIV. He challenges the appropriateness of some of the questions he finds discriminatory and can stop African men from getting tested.

Afghan mothers at risk with every birth

38 years old Fariba holds her a year and half years old boy while putting down a sleep her youngest son Mustafa who was born a month ago in her home in Kabul - Farzana Wahidy | Panos London

Aunohita speaks to mothers, NGO workers and the Deputy Minister of Health in Afghanistan to examine the strains placed on women in the family – fertility, contraception and social pressures.

Kashmir’s children pay the price of conflict

Shabir and his family - Raashid Bhat | Panos London

Unexploded ordnance is a very real problem for people living in rural Kashmir. Shabir lost his brother to a discarded army shell, and has received only a very small amount in compensation for his own injuries including the loss of his leg.

From ridicule to fulfillment; ‘I have made the journey’

Ambra showing her son's high school marks - Thingnam Anjulika Samom | Panos London

Talking of her own ‘journey from victimhood to self-reliance,’ Ambra blogs about how a moment of determination was the turning point for her and her sons.

The human cost of displacement

Lipholo Bosielo, one of the narrators in the Molika-liko valley - Kitty Warnock | Panos London

Olivia Bennett talks about her recent pubication, Displaced: The Human Cost of Development and Resettlement, based on learning and oral testimonies from a Panos London project.

Being jailed made me into a leader

A meeting of the Telengana Mahila Mahajena Samakhya (All Dalit Women’s Association of Telengana) - Stella Paul | Panos London

Looking back over how she became the activist she is today, Mary Madiga is proud to be a Dalit – “people who are broken in body, but not in spirit”.

Afghan theatre of war comes to the stage

A woman wearing a white burqa holds a rose to her nose at a street market in Khwaja-Bahauddin - Yannis Kontos | Polaris | Panos Pictures

Emotional trauma is perhaps the single largest unreported fallout of Afghanistan’s brutal wars. This interactive theatre project aims to help the survivors cope with violence, even when facing social restrictions.

Leaders must think of rural people – we are starving

Women from Gwelekoro village processing cereals - Andrew Esiebo | Panos London

Kaidia explains the urgent matters that the new Mali government must attend to – the economy, education and hunger.

From hard labour to champion runner

Salam ongbi Patamo is now not just a local celebrity - Anjulika Thingnam | Panos London

Salam ongbi Patamo has always had a passion for running, but never expected to win three gold medals. She tells us about how the National Masters Athletic Championships changed her life.

‘No alternatives’ drive HIV positive woman to sex work

An AIDS awareness poster hangs in a corner of Nungshi's hut - Anjulika Thingnam | Panos London

Caring for two children can be difficult in Manipur, especially when you have no means of stable income. Some women turn to the only source of income available to them. Women Action for Development has been supporting Nungshi (not her real name) to start a new life.

HIV: passing the test word around London

Siphiwe Hlophe, founder of Swaziland Positive Living, stands next to a giant elevated ribbon, made with over 6,000 red flowers representing the number of people that die every day of AIDS related illnesses - Steve Forrest | Panos Pictures

Richard Kavuma visits with the Naz Project London and learns more about some of the obstacles faced when trying to raise awareness, understanding and prudence about HIV.

Talking and listening together to make healthcare better

Discussing healthcare in a Beyond Consultation workshop - Andrew Testa | Panos London

Panos London, working with Naz Project London, is pleased to announce a new publication – Beyond Consultation: a guide for health commissioners.

Haitian immigrants struggle for a better life in Brazil

Panos London - 2011/04/07 - Manaus, Brazil - Haitians - Many Haitians are moving to Brazil to escape the destruction caused by the earthquake in their country.They come looking for work opportunities and want to establish residence. They are coming in groups, arriving in Manaus, state of Amazonas, Brazil, after months of travel, facing the difficulties of the resumption in a new country.

This month the Brazilian government announced it would provide aid to two northwest states where over 4,000 Haitians have moved after the devastating earthquake in 2010. Ana Aranha met the people hoping to rebuild their lives.

Hunger rife among India’s tribal children

Anita feeds her 18 month old malnourished daughter Rajni at the nutritional rehabilitation centre in the pediatric ward at Maharani Laxmibai Medical College in Jhansi - Sanjit Das | Panos Pictures

A new Save the Children report claims that half of all children in India are stunted from malnutrition, with many going without food entirely. Divya Gupta visited tribal communities in Madhya Pradesh to discover what it means not to have enough food.

No one here escapes malaria

Village women listen to an educational talk regarding the dangers of female circumcision - Alfredo Caliz | Panos Pictures

Kaidia blogs about health issues for the children of Mali, from malaria to female genital mutilation.

Making pregnancy safer in Mali

Kadia Keita, a local midwife, is pictured with some of the babies that she has helped to deliver at the health centre in Bomau village - Abbie Trayler-Smith | Panos Pictures

Kaidia talks to us about pregnancy in Mali – the risks and the changes that are helping to improve the health of mothers and children.

The biggest challenge is apathy

Efforts are on to raise awareness among Dalit and tribal people -mostly women - of Kaudikasa to know and cliam their rights - Stella Paul | Panos London

Bhan returns with a blog for us about social change in rural India and how this can come about by claiming ownership over community affairs.

Trials of tending the women’s garden

A girl carries water on her head in the village of Intedeyne, Mali - Ami Vitale | Panos Pictures

Kaidia speaks about how her community has dealt with rain shortages and drought over recent years.