Recently the WHO (World Health Organization) released a list of the biggest threats and health challenges our world will face in the next decade. The list features 13 global health issues, from climate change to healthcare operations. As we all know, in 2020 devastation hit the world, and we are undergoing a global health emergency. We are currently living through one of the most challenging pandemics humanity has faced.

For at least two centuries, we have all been fighting influenza, which comes back time and time again. Malaria continues to be one of the most infectious diseases we know, Tuberculosis affects many people across the globe, and diseases such as HIV and Aids are still circling.

Luckily, our technological advancements in epidemiology, vaccinology and anti-viral development offer us great hope, along with the fact that scientists are aware of potential outbreaks in the future and have been researching diseases that are pandemic material for decades. One of the reasons why we were able to produce Covid-19 vaccines quickly. But there are other major global health issues you need to know.   

The Climate Change Crisis

Our warming, storming planet has been trying to tell us all something for years, but why are only a few of us listening?

The effect of climate change won’t just devastate the planet, but humanity too. According to WHO, 7 million people die every year from air pollution already. Climate change will lead to the extinction of our planet.

Natural disasters such as storms, floods, droughts, and fires are not only destroying our landscapes but worsening our malnutrition and promoting the spread of infectious diseases. Therefore, the more climate change worsens, the more likely we will experience pandemics.

Healthcare

The global health workforce is struggling, and this has become increasingly prominent since the Covid-19 pandemic struck. It has shown us that we are not prepared at all for global health emergencies, and our public health workers are the ones that are taking the brunt of it whilst being underpaid and suffering from mental health. The lack of support healthcare workforces are receiving is resulting in a shortage of health workers.

Healthcare equity is also a cause of concern. There are serious discrepancies in healthcare quality between people in low to those in high-income countries. In turn, it has caused a significant difference in the life expectancies between those who have proper healthcare and access to life-saving treatments and those who don’t.

One-third of people worldwide lack access to essential medical products, including medicines and vaccines. Billions live with inadequate sanitation, and one-fourth of healthcare facilities don’t have basic water services critical for systems and treatments.  

Preventing the Spread of Infectious Diseases

WHO estimates around four million deaths this year due to sexually transmitted infections and other infectious diseases. These diseases spread rapidly and affect so many because of the urgent need for funding and support in healthcare services in all countries, especially low-income ones.

They need proper care facilities, products like medicines and vaccines, data availability for further development and the strengthening of their routine immunisation. If they had this, it would prevent the spread of infectious diseases further afield.

Preparing for Future Epidemics & Pandemics

An epidemic is the sudden outbreak of a disease in a particular area, whilst a pandemic is an outbreak that spreads across several continents and countries.

According to WHO, the likelihood of airborne and highly infectious epidemics and pandemics is inevitable in the future. Countries worldwide weren’t prepared for the Covid-19 outbreak and have spent too long responding to it and rebuilding, delaying preparations for future outbreaks.

Mental Health

1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem of some kind every year, and the overall number of reports is going up. Many suffer from long-term mental health issues, like anxiety and depression.

The recent pandemic caused mental health problems to rise drastically around the world. Therefore, global health threats contribute towards mental health problems, from climate change and natural disasters to healthcare workers burning out. The worse global health is, the worse our mental health will become.

Cancer

According to Cancer Research UK, 1 in 2 people will now get some form of cancer in their lifetime. Despite our treatment for cancer improving drastically over the past 40 years and the likelihood of new developments on the way in the near future, cancer remains one of the biggest global health concerns.

Without adequate healthcare systems and access to treatment in every country worldwide, it will continue to affect the lives of many. The threat of other global health concerns, such as pandemics, also puts cancer sufferers at an increased risk.

Public Trust in Healthcare & Governments

The public’s lack of trust in their health systems and governments poses a large risk to the decisions people make for their health and their loved ones. Tackling the spread of misinformation in the media, strengthening primary care for individual communities, and investing more into healthcare systems will help regain the trust that is slowly diminishing.


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