Meet the Editor: Shereen Hussein

Prof Shereen Hussein is a Health and Social Care Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in the UK. She joins Dr Jonathan Samet on the senior editorial board for Population Health Metrics as a co-Editor-in-Chief.
Published in Public Health
Meet the Editor: Shereen Hussein
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Congratulations on your recent appointment as co-Editor-in-Chief for Population Health Metrics! How do you see this moment in your career and what do you envisage for the journal?

As the newly appointed co-Editor-in-Chief for Population Health Metrics, I consider this as a significant milestone in my career trajectory, building on previous editorial roles. I foresee guiding the journal toward a more profound emphasis on key areas that demand nuanced measurement tools and sensitive methodological approaches, particularly concerning technology and data in healthcare.

One focal point involves elevating attention towards ageing and long-term care needs. Achieving this necessitates fostering innovative methodologies that measure both met and unmet needs. Crucially, these tools must be adaptable to various cultural perspectives on ageing and care.  I encourage methodologies that harness various data sources and utilize cutting-edge tools such as machine learning and AI. Yet, it's crucial to acknowledge existing gaps in data and information, necessitating a platform for the scientific community to address these deficiencies.

What drew you to your work in Medical Demography and Population Science?

My passion for Medical Demography and Population Science is rooted in the profound realisation that individual actions intricately shape population dynamics and transformations. Understanding these dynamics is crucial as they influence the demand and supply of health and care services. This critical interplay between individual behaviours and their larger impact on communities has driven my pursuit of this field.

Understanding demographic trends is pivotal in public health, enabling the strategic deployment of interventions where they are most needed. It ensures that vulnerable populations receive tailored support and resources, addressing their specific needs effectively.

In essence, the significance of demography in public health lies not only in recognizing demographic trends but also in leveraging advancements in measurement tools to maximize the accuracy and depth of our understanding. This multifaceted approach ensures that interventions are data-informed, targeted, and better equipped to address the diverse and evolving health needs of populations.

Your initial focus was on child and maternal morbidity and gender equality. Is this still present in your work today, and in what way?

While child and maternal morbidity were foundational aspects of my earlier work, they are not the primary focus of my current research endeavours. Nevertheless, they continue to influence certain facets of my work indirectly. For instance, considerations of child morbidity and instances of disabilities significantly shape the demand for care services among children and young individuals. Understanding the implications of these health factors remains integral to comprehending the broader landscape of health and care needs, even if they aren't the central focal point.

However, gender equality remains a core and persistent focus in my current work. Specifically, I examine the experiences of health and care workers through a gender lens. Evaluating the impact of gender disparities on the quality-of-life outcomes among individuals accessing health and care services remains a critical aspect of my ongoing research.

I recognise that gender equality intersects with various aspects of healthcare, influencing both the workforce dynamics and the quality of care individuals receive. By delving into these intersections, I aim to shed light on the gender-specific challenges faced within the healthcare system, thus advocating for more equitable and inclusive practices.

How is your work and research related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

My work and research align closely with several SDGs, particularly SDG3: Good Health and Well-being. I focus on enhancing the quality of care by improving health and care systems while addressing disparities influenced by various micro and macro-level factors. My work specifically concentrates on the well-being of older individuals, their informal carers, and paid care workers, many of whom are women handling multiple caregiving and employment responsibilities. This addresses SDG5: Gender Equality, focusing on the challenges women face in aged care, both as providers and recipients.

Reducing inequalities is a pivotal aspect of my work, aligning with SDG10: Reduced Inequalities. Through identifying the needs and responses to Long-Term Care, my research aims to provide older people in various regions with improved chances to age with dignity.

Regarding SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, my research emphasizes enhancing awareness within communities about the needs of older individuals. This is particularly relevant in LMICs, where the current aged-care models are community-embedded, highlighting the necessity to foster inclusive, safe, and sustainable human settlements.

I investigate the intersection of poverty, age disparities, and the exploitation of certain groups of care workers. This connection directly links to efforts outlined in SDG1 and SDG4 to alleviate poverty and ensure quality education for all.

Lastly, SDG17: Partnerships for the Goals lies at the core of my work. The primary objective is to generate a research priority agenda through a co-production process actively involving diverse stakeholders. This approach aligns with the collaborative spirit of SDG17, promoting partnerships to achieve common goals.

Did you face any challenges as a woman in your field, and how did you overcome them?

Yes, navigating the professional landscape as a woman in my field has presented both unique challenges and opportunities. One significant hurdle has been balancing childcare responsibilities while pursuing a demanding career with three children. This juggling act often required meticulous planning and coordination between work and family life.

Moreover, the intersectionality of gender and race has occasionally resulted in preconceived notions and biases. There were instances where my contributions or ideas were undervalued or attributed to others, making it crucial to assert myself and ensure proper acknowledgement.

There was a persistent feeling that I needed to exert extra effort to gain the same recognition as my counterparts, an unsettling sentiment that I was required to do double to be equally acknowledged. However, I've maintained my confidence and self-belief, not letting these situations undermine my dedication and contributions.

I found practical support from my family and friends immensely helpful, learning the importance of seeking assistance when needed. Prioritising tasks and learning to say 'no' when necessary became crucial in managing my workload effectively. I've made a conscious effort to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of all team members while ensuring that I do not diminish my own contributions. 

Creating equity in science and research is pivotal, and as a co-Editor-in-Chief, I'm committed to fostering an inclusive environment. Overcoming systemic barriers demands proactive measures to amplify underrepresented voices, nurture emerging talent, and provide equitable opportunities. It’s essential to lead by example, champion inclusivity, and ensure that everyone, regardless of background, feels empowered to contribute meaningfully, thus advancing a more diverse and equitable scientific landscape.

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COVID-19 and Impact on Mortality and Population Health

Population Health Metrics is calling for submissions focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mortality/population health. According to the WHO, as of July 2023, there have been nearly 7 million deaths due to COVID-19 globally, and at least double that number in uncounted excess mortality attributable to the pandemic. COVID-19 mortality has varied over time, and by nation, within country geography and across demographics. This collection will include research focused on the COVID-19 pandemic mortality and other metrics of population health, including studies of descriptive epidemiology at the population level, burden of disease, disease and risk factor modeling, excess deaths, and comparative assessment of risks to health at the population level. We are particularly interested in inequalities in population health due to the COVID-19 pandemic and their measurement.

Publishing Model: Open Access

Deadline: Ongoing