Priority health problems in different levels of development


1. To obtain conceptual and empirical knowledge on the time trend evolution of priority health problems, with a focus on low-middle income countries, and an emphasis on the linkages between health and development, social determinants, child health, adult health, sexual and reproductive health, endemic diseases and the links to health systems;
2. Develop skills for search, systematization and critical analysis of data, with a potential application on policy formulation and health promotion, paying special attention to the distribution and evolution of demographic and health indicators, health problems and determinants, at different levels of development.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Paulo Ferrinho


Weekly - 6,5

Total - 40

Teaching language



Not applicable


• Omran AR. The Epidemiological Transition. Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly, 1971, Irwin A, Scali E. Action on the Social Determinants of Health: learning from previous experiences. Social Determinants of Health Discussion Paper 1 (Debates), 2010.
• Barthélémy Kuate Defo (2014). Demographic, epidemiological, and health transitions: are they relevant to population health patterns in Africa? Glob Health Action 2014, 7: 22443 -
• Vongsvat Kosulwat (2002). The nutrition and health transition in Thailand. Public Health Nutrition: 5(1A), 183–189 DOI: 10.1079/PHN2001292.
• Lindstrand A, Bergström S, Rosling H, Rubenson B, Stenson B, Tylleskär T. Global Health. An introductory textbook. Studentlitteratur, 2006.
• Merson M. et al (Eds.). International Public Health. 2nd. Edit. Jones and Bartlet, 2006.
• Lozano R, Naghavi M, Foreman K, Lim S, Shibuya K, Aboyans V et al. Global and regional mortality from 235 causes of death for 20 age groups in 1990 and 2010:a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. The Lancet. 2012 15;380(9859):2095-2128.
• World Health Organization (2009). Global health risks: mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. Geneva.
• Ribeiro, P. S., Jacobsen, K. H., Mathers, C. D., and García-Moreno, C. (2008). Priorities for women’s health from the global burden of disease study. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 2008 102, 82–90.
• Teresa Ferreira Rodrigues. Demografia Social e Políticas Demográficas. População, recursos e desenvolvimento. FCSH, 2012.
• The CDI Study Group. Community-directed interventions for priority health problems in Africa: results of a multicountry study, Bull World Health Organ 2010; 88:509–518.
Other literature may be suggested during classes, for specific topics, and made available for student evaluation.

Teaching method

Classroom teaching; guided information search; tutorship of practical work on the utilization of concepts, data and methodologies.

Evaluation method

The evaluation methods focus on: a) the integration of knowledge and capacities among the thematic contents; b) the application of knowledge to the study of specific situations and cases. A synthesis with a maximum of 1500 words should privilege the previous foci.

Subject matter

I. Health determinants: different analytical frameworks for systematisation. Different lenses, at various levels of development.
II. Health and development: empirical evidence for associations on both directions.
III. The Health Transition: processes and results. Regional specificities. International data-bases and their interpretation.
IV. The demographic transition: demographic and population dynamics, regional and development level specificities; demographic and health data sources and their quality.
V. Child health: determinants of child health-and-disease in tropical environments; disease profile; health promotion interventions.
VI. Adult health: development and urbanization and the evolution of risk factors; using data sources to measure evolution; the most important health problems in low-and-middle income countries.
VII. Sexual and Reproductive Health: Gender, rights and health: theory and conceptual aspects; The relationship between gender, sexuality and reproductive health in the life-cycle of women and men: empirical evidence; Contraception and abortion: perceptions and representations; Pregnancy, maternity and paternity; Infertility and medically-assisted reproduction; Adolescence and sexuality; Domestic violence and women’s health; Sexually transmitted diseases.
VIII. Endemic Diseases: a selection of topics according to frequency and severity (burden of disease: Malaria, Tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS); epidemiology: transmission cycle and natural history of disease. The foundations for control programs in tropical environments and low-middle incomes.
IX. Health systems in different levels of development: their adaptation to the evolution of disease patterns.


Programs where the course is taught: