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Trends in Global Health

Health is a vital issue in global development and humanitarian aid. Over the last few decades, the world has taken strides to improve healthcare. Today, we’ve hit significant milestones, such as reducing infant mortality rates and increasing life expectancy. However, to provide equitable healthcare for all, we must continue to focus on improvement. Here are seven areas that are trending in global health right now.

1. More vaccines around the world

Immunization has saved more lives than most other treatments. The world has been able to eradicate smallpox through vaccination. And there is hope that other diseases such as polio will follow suit. Vaccines save at least 5 million lives each year.

Today, immunization is available for a large part of the population. Many national schemes include mandatory and routine vaccines. But we can still do more. We need to continue improving access to vaccines. And, research and development will develop new vaccines to save more lives.

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2. Non-communicable diseases pose a significant risk

Overall, the world has gotten richer. Our lifestyles have significantly changed with technologies taking over a lot of the hard work. This has helped to reduce exposure to bacterial and viral diseases. However, it has also given rise to non-communicable diseases or NCDs.

These include issues such as cardiovascular health, obesity, and diabetes. How do we tackle these problems? We need stronger programs in healthy lifestyles. People also need better access to nutritious foods and higher awareness around NCDs. Preventive care is also crucial.

3. Lower child mortality rates

In 1990, 65 of 1000 babies died in infancy. Today, this number is less than half, at the rate of 29 deaths per 1000 live births. Training, proper healthcare facilities and services, and better access have all had an impact on lower child mortality rates. Mortality associated with childbirth for women has also dropped significantly. But there is still a lot of work to do. There is a significant disparity between countries and regions, requiring more equitable access to prenatal and birth care.

4. Climate change and global health

The world is seeing an unprecedented number of mega-disasters. The warming climate and extreme weather are changing habitats and causing species extinction. We don’t know how these trends will impact global health. But we know that they will. In the meantime, we can all take responsibility. As such, the world needs to address climate change and slow it down as much as possible. At the same time, the global healthcare system needs to prepare for the potential impact of these changes.

5. Progress in treating and preventing HIV/AIDs

In the last 20 years, HIV infections fell by 36%. Similarly, deaths related to HIV/AIDs dropped by 38% thanks to research and awareness regarding the disease. People living with HIV can have full-filling lives with proper care and medication. The disease continues to claim lives and to spread. The goal is HIV eradication; however, it is still out of reach. Today, nearly 37 million people are living with HIV around the world. So more urgent action is needed. You can find more details about progress in our summary of The AIDS Conference Amsterdam 2018 that took place last year in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

6. New trends, new diseases

As the world changes, so do the trends in global health. For example, antibiotic resistance is one of the urgent issues that people are facing today. As bacteria adapt to antibiotics, treatment is becoming more sophisticated and requires more research. Dependence on opioids is another issue emerging due to medications. As such, the healthcare systems around the world are looking for new ways and solutions for pain management and bacteria treatment. Further, new viruses are emerging or resurfacing, including Zika, Chikungunya, and the recent Ebola outbreak.

7. Innovation and emerging technologies

Did you know that at least half of today’s emerging technologies are impacting healthcare? Innovation is vital for advancing global health. Areas such as artificial intelligence, big data, and robotics are disrupting healthcare around the world. For global development and humanitarian aid, this may mean that soon even more people will have access to proper healthcare. Innovation in insurance and localized data-based health will help to contextualize and individualize healthcare. And new technologies may soon be providing cure to chronic or deadly diseases of today.

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