The World’s Health Organization’s Ten Threats to Global Health in 2019
The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a list of the leading 10 threats to global health in 2019. The first listed threat is “Air Pollution and Climate Change,” where 9/10 people breathe polluted air daily leading to around 7 million premature deaths per year. Climate change also threatens to drive increased deaths from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress. The second threat is Noncommunicable diseases (e.g. diabetes, cancer and heart disease), responsible for around 41 million deaths per year, or around 70% of all deaths. These are themselves driven by tobacco use, physical inactivity, diet, and pollution. Mental issues also play a role, and suicide has become the second leading cause of death among the 15-19 age category. Third is the risk of a global incluenza pandemic, where “the only thing we don’t know is when it will hit and how severe it will be. Global defenses are only as effective as the weakest link in any country’s health emergency preparedness and response system.” Fourth is fragile and vulnerable settings that exacerbate poor conditions that drive health issues. Fifth is antimicrobial resistance that risks ending the effectiveness of treatments to some previously easily curable diseases (pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, etc.). Sixth is Ebola and other high-threat pathogens. Seventh is weak primary health care. Eighth is vaccine hesitancy. Ninth is Dengue, a mosquito-borne disease that infects 390 per year. Tenth is HIV, where significant progress has been made, but from which nearly one million people die every year.