Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Global Health Overview

This article looks at some global aspects of health issues, such as the impact of poverty and inequality, the nature of patent rules at the WTO, pharmaceutical company interests, as well as some global health initiatives and the changing nature of the global health problems being faced.

Despite incredible improvements in health since 1950, there are still a number of challenges, which should have been easy to solve. Consider the following:

One billion people lack access to health care systems 
36 million deaths each year are caused by noncommunicable diseases , such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. This is almost two-thirds of the estimated 56 million deaths each year worldwide. (A quarter of these take place before the age of 60.) Breaking down the leading causes a bit further (there are others too),
Cardiovascular diseases cause about 17 million deaths
Cancers, about 7.6 million deaths
Chronic lung diseases, about 4.2 million deaths
Diabetes, about 1.3 million deaths
Over 7.5 million children under the age of 5 die from malnutrition and mostly preventable diseases, each year
In 2008, some 6.7 million people died of infectious diseases alone, far more than the number killed in the natural or man-made catastrophes that make headlines. (These are the latest figures presented by the World Health Organization.)
AIDS/HIV has spread rapidly. UNAIDS estimates for 2008 that there were roughly:
33.4 million living with HIV
2.7 million new infections of HIV
2 million deaths from AIDS
Tuberculosis kills 1.7 million people each year, with 9.4 million new cases a year.
1.6 million people still die from pneumococcal diseases every year, making it the number one vaccine-preventable cause of death worldwide. More than half of the victims are children. (The pneumococcus is a bacterium that causes serious infections like meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis. In developing countries, even half of those children who receive medical treatment will die. Every second surviving child will have some kind of disability.)
Malaria causes some 225 million acute illnesses and over 780,000 deaths, annually 
164,000 people, mostly children under 5, died from measles in 2008 (the latest years for which figures are available, at time of writing) even though effective immunization, which includes vaccine and safe injection equipment, costs less than 1 US dollars and has been available for more than 40 years.
These and other diseases kill more people each year than conflict alone.

Why has it got to such a level when the world has enough wealth to help address most of these problems, or at least alleviate more of the suffering?

This article looks at a number of global factors and issues around health problems.


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