There is nothing as fulfilling as having good health. Perhaps, this is the reason for the phrase “health is wealth”. Sadly, health is still one of the greatest threats to humanity. From HIV to Ebola viruses and other harmful diseases, health is always a challenge people face around the world. The World Health Organization has come up with Global health challenges to watch out for in 2019. According to WHO, it will address these challenges in a 5 years plan tagged the 13th General Programme Of Work.
Below are the global health challenges to watch out for in 2019. The list is not in a particular order. Global Health Challenges To Watch Out For In 2019
- VACCINE HESITANCY
Vaccine hesitancy is the refusal of people to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines. The is also known as anti-vaxxing. When people grossly refuse to vaccinate, it could have negative effects on the effort to eliminate vaccines preventable diseases. Ordinarily, Vaccine is one of the most effective ways to avoid diseases. And the refusal to vaccinate so as to avoid diseases is a global threat to health in 2019.
According to WHO, vaccines prevent about 2 to 3 million deaths annually. Interestingly, an additional 1.5 million people could be saved if people are more open to receiving vaccines. Religious and philosophical beliefs among others are the reasons people around the world are hesitant to take vaccines. Sadly, this seemingly harmless decision could be putting a hundred of thousands of people at risk of developing diseases that could have been prevented with vaccination.
- AIR POLLUTION
Air pollution is also one of the global health challenges to watch out for in 2019. In fact, it is arguably the greatest environmental risk to health. According to the World Health Organization, nine out of every ten people breathe polluted air worldwide. This is obviously one of the causes of lungs and heart damages. Furthermore, experts have linked air pollution to diabetes. And air pollution is responsible for the death of about 600000 children every year.
Air pollution has been identified as one of the global health challenges to watch out for in 2019 because it is more dangerous than smoking. In fact, reports have it that air pollution kills about 15 times more people than all the violence and war in the world today. You see, air pollution is indeed a threat to humanity. In view of this, it is advisable to always wear a nose mask when in a polluted environment.
- NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES
Non-communicable diseases pose a serious threat to health global in 2019. As a matter of fact, about 70% of deaths worldwide are caused by non-communicable diseases. Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) are chronic diseases that are often caused by a combination of several factors. And some of these factors are; physiological, environmental and behavioral. Basically, there are 4 main types of NCD namely; cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. These four diseases combined together are responsible for about 80% NCD related deaths.
According to the World Health Organization’s report, NCDs are responsible for 41 million deaths globally. Sadly, 15 million out of the total 41 million are premature deaths (people between 30 – 69 years old). It may interest you to know that anybody anywhere irrespective of region, age or country is vulnerable to NCDs especially if they are directly or indirectly affected by the following risk factors; tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets, and air pollution.
However, the World Health Organization has plans to reduce the spread of NCDs with emphasis on reducing physical inactivity by 2030. To make this plan achievable, they have come up with a four policy action plan called the Active Policy Toolkit.
- FRAGILE AND VULNERABLE SETTINGS
People living in fragile and vulnerable settings are likely to get different diseases because of their inaccessibility to quality healthcare facilities. According to WHO, over 1.6 billion people which account for 22% of the world population lives in places impacted by protracted crises. According to the United Nation Food and Agricultural Organization, an environment is said to be in a protracted crisis when a significant proportion of its population is vulnerable to death, diseases, and disruption of livelihood over a prolonged period of time. The crises could be caused by different factors some of them are; conflict, poverty, famine, drought or population displacement. People going through any of the above are in protracted crises and are undergoing serious health threat.
- DRUG RESISTANT BACTERIA
The emergence of drug-resistant bacteria is also among the global health challenges to watch out for in 2019. What this means is that parasites, fungi, and viruses could undo years of medical research and advancements. In the last century, they have been advancements in medical research and scientists have been successful in fighting various bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Sadly, we are living in a time when antimicrobial resistance and germs developing the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them.
According to WHO, drug resistance is driven by the overuse of antimicrobial in people and animal. Especially those used in food production as well as the environment. The threat of drug-resistant bacteria is posing to health is that with this resistance, it will be almost impossible for doctors to easily treat infections like pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea and salmonellosis. Furthermore, antimicrobial resistance could compromise surgery and treatments like chemotherapy.
- LIMITED ACCESS TO PRIMARY HEALTHCARE
Limited access to primary healthcare puts people at great risk. It is one of the global health challenges to watch out for in 2019. Ordinarily, healthcare facilities ought to have provided a comprehensive, affordable, and community-based care to people around the world. But this is far from reality in different countries around the world. In fact, people living in low- or middle-income countries are sometimes deprived of access to healthcare. Well, you may not really blame the country for this. After all, when resources are limited, healthcare may not be a top priority. I may be wrong, but it’s just my humble opinion. This is why the World Health Organization is making a serious effort towards revitalizing and strengthening healthcare in low- and middle-income countries in 2019.
- HIV, DENGUE FEVER, EBOLA AND GLOBAL INFLUENZA PANDEMIC
HIV is also a global threat to health. Even though a significant milestone has been achieved in the area of testing and prevention, there is still a lot to be done. According to UNAIDS, 36.9 million people are living with HIV worldwide. This statistic doesn’t include people who have gone untested.
According to reports on Ebola, outbreaks spread to cities of over a million people. When outbreaks like Ebola happens in densely populated urban areas that attract tourists, it is always disastrous. This is because of the fact that tourists can easily this disease to other countries.
Dengue is also one of the global health challenges to watch out for in 2019. Dengue fever otherwise known as breakbone fever is a mosquito-borne disease mostly found in the tropical and subtropical areas. High fever, rashes, muscles, and joint pain, serious bleeding among others are the symptoms of dengue fever. When it becomes severe, it is life-threatening and serious bleeding and shock are symptoms of a severe case of dengue fever. As of today, there are 390 million infections a year.
Influenza pandemic is also one of the global health challenges to watch out for in 2019. WHO is partnering with different organizations to “ensure effective and equitable access to diagnostic vaccines and antiviral treatments, especially in developing countries.”
BY ONYEDIKA CHUKWUELOBE