SEATTLE — While the world has made progress in addressing particular health concerns in developing countries, there is still much progress to be made in global health. The following 10 facts about global health might not be as widely known as others but have affected the lives of millions.
1. Lack of surgical care results in 18.6 million deaths each year.
This issue surmounts the number of people who die from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Despite these statistics and the fact that the death and infection rates for communicable diseases have drastically declined, the U.S. continues to focus over 60 percent of its global health spending on only the most basic health needs.
2. Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.
Every country on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) data repository experienced an increase in adult obesity from 2010 to 2014. Even underdeveloped countries are experiencing the overweight pandemic, and as a result, these countries are suffering both extremes — they have residents facing issues associated with being overweight and underweight.
3. Malnutrition is a leading contributing factor to the deaths of children under the age of five.
Malnutrition makes children more vulnerable to common infections, increases the severity of these infections and also prolongs the recovery processes. According to the WHO, “leading causes of death in children under five years are preterm birth complications, pneumonia, birth asphyxia, diarrhea and malaria. About 45 percent of all child deaths are linked to malnutrition.”
4. Physical or sexual violence affects 35 percent of all women and their health.
This percentage of women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner and/or have experienced sexual violence by a non-partner. Violence towards women causes detrimental effects to their physical, mental and reproductive health. Usually, violence towards women occurs within intimate relationships; yet, 2.6 billion women and girls live in countries where marital rape is not considered a criminal act. Evidence shows that one in every two women killed is killed by an intimate partner or family member.
5. Cardiovascular diseases account for nearly 30 percent of deaths worldwide.
Contributing factors for cardiovascular diseases include alcohol and tobacco use, high blood pressure, a high body mass index, high cholesterol and high blood glucose, a low fruit and vegetable intake and physical inactivity.
6. Mental illnesses are among the many serious health concerns for refugees.
The mental distress that refugees undergo while trying to escape their homelands has become a confirmed and serious issue. Desperate for escape, refugees often dismiss their serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension to make treacherous journeys to new host countries. A large proportion of these refugees also suffer from dire mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression as a result of the migration.
7. Vaccine-preventable pneumococcal diseases result in 1.6 million deaths a year.
Pneumoccocal diseases cause serious infections like meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis — pneumonia alone accounts for the deaths of 15 percent of children under the age of five.
8. Unsafe water and poor sanitation kill an estimated 1.7 million people annually.
Studies show that 88 percent of diarrhea-related deaths are caused by the consumption of unsafe water. There are 783 million people worldwide without improved drinking water and they live primarily in the following five countries: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and China. Nearly half of child deaths under the age of five are caused by the use of unsafe water in these countries.
9. Climate change is responsible for approximately 150,000 annual deaths.
Climate change affects people by imposing issues such as thermal extremes and weather disasters, vector-borne diseases, a higher incidence of food-related and waterborne infections, photochemical air pollutants and conflict over depleted natural resources. Climate change is said to have been a contributing factor in deaths associated with diarrhea, malaria, and dengue fever.
10. Men are dying at a younger age than women.
Social gender norms have an instrumental influence on a person’s health: Men are dying at a younger age than women, because men typically have more opportunities, privileges and power than women. Factors that affect men’s health include occupational exposure to physical and chemical hazards, behaviors associated with the stereotyical male norms of risk-taking and adventure seeking, and health behavior paradigms related to masculinity. For example, men are more likely to drink and smoke, and less likely to visit the doctor. Only three countries (Australia, Brazil and Ireland) have attempted to address men’s burden of ill health through the adoption of national, male-centered strategies.
Basic essentials and presumed health policies are absent from the lives of many people around the world. Issues that do not normally cross the minds of the average higher-income families are costing people’s lives in developing countries. These 10 overlooked facts about global health are just some of the concerns that may go unnoticed due to the drastic number of other issues affecting global health in the world today.
– Kayla Mehl