WHO Lists Top 10 Threats to Global Health in 2019
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently listed the top 10 threats to global health this year. These threats come from a variety of contributors, including overuse of antimicrobials, inactivity and obesity, burning fossil fuels, and a hesitancy to use vaccines. WHO and their partners have already made goals and plans to combat these threats to improve overall global health. Their plans will help people to prepare for these threats so that they can better combat them.
Air pollution and Climate Change
In 2019, WHO declares that air pollution and climate change are the biggest threats to global health. About 9 out of 10 people breathe in polluted air daily, which can severely damage the lungs, heart, and brain. In fact, seven million people die prematurely each year due to cancer, stroke, heart disease, and lung disease. Air pollution is a large contributor to these diseases, as well as climate change. Experts expect climate change to cause an additional 250,000 deaths each year.
Noncommunicable diseases, diseases that you cannot pass on to others, account for 70 percent of deaths around the world. This includes cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The biggest contributors to these diseases are physical inactivity, tobacco use, unhealthy diets, harmful use of alcohol, and air pollution. These contributors also affect mental health, and suicide is now the second most common cause of death in 15 to 19 year olds.
Experts state that we will experience another influenza pandemic, but they do not know when or its severity. Thankfully, WHO and its global partners are helping to monitor the viruses and target potential pandemic strains. Each area in the world will need to prepare for a health emergency if it arises.
Fragile and Vulnerable Settings
Over 22 percent of the global population lives in areas of the world with prolonged crises. This includes drought, famine, conflict, and population displacement. These crises make health services weak, and people do not receive the healthcare they need. This especially affects the health of both children and mothers.
The overuse of antimicrobials has caused bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites to learn to resist the medication. This threat may send us back to a time when we could not treat diseases easily. This then affects the ability to treat patients with surgery and chemotherapy. In order to protect global health, WHO encourages the prudent use of antimicrobials.
Ebola and Other Pathogens
The Democratic Republic of Congo experienced two different Ebola outbreaks in 2018 that affected cities with over one million people. This led them to seek ways to combat outbreaks and contain them when they occur. As they prepare for health emergencies, they are also wary of similar pathogens like Zika, Nipah, MERS-CoV, and SARS.
Inadequate Primary Health Care
Another large factor that contributes to global health is the population’s access to primary health care. People should have access to care throughout their life, but this is not the case in many areas around the world. Some areas do not even have the proper resources for their facilities.
Vaccines prevent between two and three million deaths each year and have almost eliminated previously dangerous diseases. Some people choose to not use vaccines because they do not have convenient access, they are complacent, or they are not confident in the vaccines. Though it is not the only reason, vaccine hesitancy has contributed to the resurgence of some of these dangerous diseases.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease that causes flu-like symptoms and kills 20 percent of severe cases. It used to be prominent in Bangladesh and India, but it has now spread to more temperate climates in Nepal. WHO aims to reduce the number of deaths by dengue by 50 percent by 2020.
Modern medicine has drastically improved global health, and it has also made significant progress against HIV. However, 35 million people have died since the beginning of the epidemic, and another 37 million people currently live with the disease. WHO plans to offer HIV self-tests to those in the workplace so they can know when to seek out preventative care and treatment.
Protect Yourself and Global Health
Each of these threats can cause serious problems for global health if we do not take measures against them now. In order to protect ourselves, we need to establish healthy habits that protect us from diseases. By spreading awareness and donating to worthwhile organizations, we can also protect others.