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Ten global threats in 2019

Bhutan Times


World Health Organization (WHO) announced a list of 10 health issues that will require attention in 2019. To address these issues, WHO is beginning a 5-year strategic plan, the 13th General Programme of Work.

The plan has a triple billion target to ensure 1B more people benefit from access to health care, 1B more people are protected from health emergencies and 1B more people experience better health and well-being.

According to the WHO, nine out of ten people breathe polluted air every day. In 2019, air pollution is considered by WHO as the greatest environmental risk to health. Non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, are collectively responsible for over 70 percent of all deaths worldwide, or 41M people.

This includes 15M people dying prematurely, aged between 30 and 69.

It also states that the world will face another influenza pandemic - the only thing we don't know is when it will hit and how severe it will be. Global defences are only as effective as the weakest link in any country's health emergency preparedness and response system Furthermore, more than 1.6B people which constitute of 22 percent of the global population live in places where protracted crises through a combination of challenges such as drought, famine, conflict, and population displacement and weak health services leave them without access to basic care.

'Fragile settings exist in almost all regions of the world, and these are where half of the key targets in the sustainable development goals, including on child and maternal health, remains unmet.' Antimicrobial resistance, WHO states that the development of antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarial are some of modern medicine's greatest successes. Now, time with these drugs is running out.

Antimicrobial resistance - the ability of bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi to resist these medicines - threatens to send us back to a time when we were unable to easily treat infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and salmonellosis.

The inability to prevent infections could seriously compromise surgery and procedures such as chemotherapy.

It's also states that, Ebola and other high threat pathogens, in 2018, the Democratic Republic of the Congo saw two separate Ebola outbreaks, both of which spread to cities of more than 1M people.

One of the affected provinces is also in an active conflict zone. This shows that the context in which an epidemic of a high-threat pathogen like Ebola erupts is critical - what happened in rural outbreaks in the past doesn't always apply to densely populated urban areas or conflict-affected areas. Weak primary health care is amongst others.

Primary health care is usually the first point of contact people have with their health care system, and ideally should provide comprehensive, affordable, community-based care throughout life. Primary health care can meet the majority of a person's health needs of the course of their life. Health systems with strong primary health care are needed to achieve universal health coverage. Yet many countries do not have adequate primary health care facilities.

Vaccine hesitancy - the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines - threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease - it currently prevents 2-3M deaths a year and a further 1.5M could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved.

It states that, dengue, a mosquito-borne disease that causes flu-like symptoms and can be lethal and kill up to 20 percent of those with severe dengue, has been a growing threat for decades. And finally human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the progress made against HIV has been enormous in terms of getting people tested, providing them with antiretrovirals and providing access to preventive measures such as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP, which is when people at risk of HIV take antiretrovirals to prevent infection).

However, the epidemic continues to rage with nearly a million people every year dying of HIV/ AIDS. Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 70M people have acquired the infection, and about 35M people have died. Today, around 37M worldwide live with HIV and the total number of HIV cases since 1993 in the Bhutan stands at 627.

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