Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) compiles a list of the world’s most significant health threats in the hopes of finding ways to solve them. This year’s greatest threats to global health are:
1. Air pollution
2. Lifestyle-related deaths
4. Poor living conditions
5. Antimicrobial resistance
6. High-threat pathogens
7. Poor primary healthcare
8. Vaccine hesitancy
9. Dengue fever
Let's take a deeper look at some of our biggest threats...
Far Range of Threats
Included in this year's top 10 list are items that could affect us all, including:
- Effects of air pollution and climate change
- Ongoing possibility of a global influenza pandemic
- Effects of poor living conditions
- Insufficient primary healthcare access
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Other list items, such as threats presented by Ebola and Dengue fever, are unlikely to reach the U.S. Unfortunately, according to the WHO, we have some serious health issues of our own.
We Americans eat a lot of processed and fast food, so it’s no wonder nearly 40% of our population is obese. Add in our smokers and Americans living sedentary lifestyles, and we’re living amidst a wide-scale health crisis. Studies have found obesity leads to early disability, and heavy tobacco and alcohol use take an average of 7 years off an otherwise healthy lifespan. Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and numerous other lifestyle-related diseases plague our country.
Antimicrobial Resistance Threats
Up until recent decades, we had no idea how serious of a threat antimicrobial resistance could be. Even once we knew bacteria and other nasty microbes could adapt, we continued to abuse antibiotics and other antimicrobials. Now, we’re all suffering the consequences. According to the WHO, antimicrobials have become ineffective against numerous deadly diseases, and they may all become useless if we don’t change our excessive practices immediately.
The Threat of Vaccination Hesitancy
According to the WHO, vaccination hesitancy has become an increasingly widespread issue in numerous countries -- including the U.S., and as a result, some diseases could end up rebounding or mutating. Mutations can sometimes infect even immunized people. Over 110,000 people died last year from measles infections, and about 160,700 died from whooping cough. Those numbers could rise dramatically without intervention. If smallpox or polio were to reemerge, they could devastate the world.
The threats to global health may be varied, but the numbers of preventable deaths remain far too high in every country. The WHO seeks to find practical solutions through shared information and worldwide efforts, but each of us can also do our fair share; this begins with how we care for ourselves and one another.
~ Here’s to Your Health and Wellness