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Global Health Challenges report for 2020

Posted on : 21 Jan 2020

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  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), climate crisis, eventuality of an influenza epidemic and spread of infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis have topped the list of top global health challenges for 2020 released by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • This is the second straight year that these challenges have topped the WHO’s list.
  • Rather than talk about just diseases as ‘threats’, the list also takes into account infrastructure, social media, new tech and human resources in health.
  • A new entrant to the list of 13 potential threats is the lack of access. About a third of the world’s people lack access to medicines, vaccines, diagnostic tools and other essential health products, the report says.
  • “Medicines and other health products are the second-largest expenditure for most health systems (after health workers) and the largest component of private health expenditure in low- and middle-income countries,”.
  • Delivering healthcare in conflict-ridden areas has remained one of the biggest challenges just not for the WHO but the global health fraternity. The WHO recorded 978 attacks on healthcare personnel in 11 countries last year, with 193 deaths of health workers.
  • This has been more pronounced in the ongoing outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which started in August 2018 (killing 2,000 people) as well as the measles outbreak since January 2019 (killing 6,000 people). According to this report, as many as 390 attacks have taken place in the DRC from August 2018.
  • The shortage of healthcare workers has been flagged as a major concern. “Chronic under-investment in the education and employment of health workers, coupled with a failure to ensure decent pay, has led to health worker shortages all over the world,” the report says.
  • It notes that the world will need 18 million additional health workers by 2030, primarily in low- and middle-income countries, including nine million nurses and midwives.
  • Protecting people from unhealthy food diets also finds a mention as threat for 2020.
  • Another challenge that has been highlighted in the report is situation of adolescents around the globe. More than a million adolescents aged 10-19 years die every year due to road injury, HIV, suicide, lower respiratory infections, and interpersonal violence.
  • Emerging technologies such as genome editing, synthetic biology and artificial intelligence for preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases might be a ‘tightrope walk’, according to the report.
  • An interesting trend the report sees emerging is the rise in misinformation related to health in social media, which has directly or indirectly decreased the trust of people in health institutions, and their messages. It cites the example of the ‘anti-vaccination movement’ and says the movement became largely popular due to social media.
  • Add to this, the spread of vector-borne diseases like dengue, malaria, zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever thanks to the expansion of mosquito populations to newer areas due to climate change, and the situation becomes grievous.
  • Measles, an infectious disease, killed 0.14 million people and caused outbreaks even in those countries where it was declared eliminated.
  • Significantly, non-communicable diseases are not mentioned as a top threat individually, for 2020 as it was done for 2019. 

Article Related Questions

  1. Global Health Challenges report is been released by which organization?

  2. 1.World Health Organization

    2.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


    4.Doctors Without Borders

    Right Ans : World Health Organization

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