Updated: Oct 27, 2022
We’re living in unprecedented times. On the one hand, the world still grapples with preventable health issues like measles and obesity; on the other hand, it’s struggling to emerge from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of it all, the effects of climate change are becoming all too real and severe. There is a lot to deal with. But here are five of the biggest threats to global health that demand immediate attention and widespread measures:
1. Air Pollution
Causing 7 million deaths every year, air pollution has been recognized as the greatest environmental risk to human health by the WHO. The burning of fossil fuels remains the primary cause of air pollution, which also happens to be a major contributor to climate change (another big threat to global health).
2. Climate Change
Climate change impacts the world in more ways than many of us can imagine. Extreme temperatures, increased wildfires, declining water supplies and agricultural yields, and droughtsare all effects of climate change. According to the WHO, the world will experience about 250,000 additional deaths every year between 2030 and 2050 due to climate change.
3. Non-Communicable Diseases
To most people, communicable diseases appear to be a huge health threat. And they surely are. But research shows that over 70% of all deaths worldwide are caused by non-communicable diseases, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The WHO has identified five key risk factors for the massive spread of non-communicable diseases, most of which are within an individual’s control. These include unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, air pollution, use of tobacco, and excessive alcohol consumption.
4. Antimicrobial Resistance
The overuse of antibiotics and antivirals is causing antimicrobial resistance, putting us on the verge of a period where these drugs will no longer remain effective, and we’ll be pushed back to the time when we struggled to treat even the most basic infections. It is, at present, one of the foremost challenges in treating tuberculosis, which causes 1.6 million deaths every year.
Antimicrobial resistance also increases the risk of serious and potentially fatal post-surgical complications.
5. Vaccine Hesitancy
While this isn’t a recent problem, the world witnessed (and experienced) the huge impacts the reluctance to get vaccinated can have during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only does it increase the chances of more people developing a disease, but it also hampers the efforts made to control its overall spread.
The Final Word
These are only some of the major threats to global health. There are a lot more issues to deal with to make this world a better, safer, and healthier place to live in, and there are no shortcuts to it. We need to invest time and effort and take large-scale comprehensive measures to address global health threats. AWorld Health Organization report stated that “the cost of doing nothing is one we cannot afford.”