The Four Biggest Global Health Challenges Faced Today
The World Health Organization (WHO) has chosen April 7 as World Health Day. World Health Day represents a time when countries all around the globe can come together to discuss the state of the global population – and the struggles that each individual country may face.
The WHO has dedicated this day to the discussion of every kind of health problem – in 2017, the focus has been on mental health and depression. But World Health Day also represents a time that we can address the issues that face countries worldwide – especially lesser-developed countries.
A recent study discusses four of the most crucial health challenges that must be addressed all around the world. By understanding these challenges, you can have a better understanding of the landscape of medical care not just in your country and in your hospital – but in the world at large.
Challenge 1 – Shifts To “Lifestyle-Related” Diseases
The world of global health has changed dramatically over the last century. Even just several decades ago, infectious diseases like malaria and ebola were the primary medical issues faced by the developing world.
However, an increased emphasis on prevention and vaccination as well as aid programs from more developed countries have reduced – though not eliminated – the spread of these infections diseases.
And while they do remain a concern, a shift has occurred in the past decades to “lifestyle-related” diseases, even in developing nations. Ailments such as cancer, heart disease, and psychiatric disorders are expected to overtake issues like child malnutrition and infectious diseases as the largest contributors to the global disease burden.
Nurses have already seen this shift to lifestyle diseases in developed countries for years, but as global wealth increases, diseases of affluence are now becoming common even in lesser-developed countries.
This represents a shift in the way health professionals must deal with global health, as lifestyle-related disease can’t be cured or vaccinated. Dealing with issues like heart disease and cancer requires the education of the global populace – they must understand the causes of these diseases if they are to be prevented.
Challenge 2: The Continued Spread of HIV/AIDS
Middle and high-income countries have mostly gotten the spread of HIV/AIDS under control. Preventative treatments that stop HIV from progressing into AIDS, public health campaigns, and an increased emphasis on safe sex are all part of this reduction in the spread of the disease.
However, lower-income developing countries are still suffering the effects of HIV/AIDS. In developing countries – especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS remains an epidemic, with nearly 66% of new infections occurring in Sub-Saharan African countries.
While there are many multinational, governmental, and non-governmental agencies concerned with stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS, it remains difficult to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in these countries, especially those with an unstable political climate.
In fact, soldiers remain one of the primary disease vectors for the spread of HIV/AIDS in war-torn countries. It’s estimated by WorldWatch that nearly 20% of soldiers in Sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV/AIDS, making up the majority of the infected population in these areas.
Challenge 3: Worldwide, Antibiotic-Resistant Diseases
The last decade or two have brought quite a few scary diseases to the forefront of the public mind, including SARS, avian and swine flus, West Nile virus, and infectious diseases like ebola and the zika virus.
As the worldwide community continues to grow more interconnected through easy travel via airplanes, highly-infectious diseases remain a huge threat to the entire globe – and especially to nations with poor healthcare infrastructures.
While swine and avian flus can be mitigated by first-world healthcare, developing nations often have no access to advanced medical facilities, leading to higher mortality rates.
Drug-resistant strains of these diseases are also a concern. Overuse of antibiotics has caused “superbugs” that have evolved to be resistant to common antibiotics.
Should a highly-advanced, infectious, and drug-resistant disease spread throughout the globe, the impact could be devastating – and even first-world countries may not be able to handle the treatments required to save lives.
Precautionary measures include close monitoring of outbreaks and research into combating drug-resistant epidemics, and government action to mitigate the spread of outbreaks when they occur.
Challenge 4: The Sanitation Gap
Developing countries often still lack even basic facilities and infrastructure to provide clean water, sewage access, and ensure good hygiene habits. The “Sanitation Gap” represents this issue. Despite how advanced our society is, nearly half the population lack access to toilets and clean water.
The best way to combat this issue is with further investment into the developing world. Governments funding access to clean water and sanitary facilities for low-income countries can produce dramatic benefits.
Providing the people of these nations with what they need to stabilize their environment and continue to grow is a necessity, should we desire to increase the health of the global population.
Understand The Challenges Of The Global Health Environment – And Make A Difference However You Can
Whether you can donate a few dollars to an organization like UNICEF that is helping to provide low-income countries with sanitation facilities or help spread awareness of some of these issues, you should do everything you can to help mitigate, address, and solve these issues.
That’s what World Health Day is all about – spreading the word about the most high-impact issues that face the globe, and helping everyone all around the Earth understand what they can do to help.
Donate if you can. Spread the word if you can’t donate. And help the WHO improve the health of our world – one day at a time.