Doctor Examining CT Scan

Health

Problems and solutions

With so many challenges, it's hard to know where to start.  We start by defining some of the most pressing issues, looking at the data, and learning about evidence based opportunities for change.  

THE PROBLEMS
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Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)
  • NCDs like cardiovascular diseases, cancers, respiratory illnesses, and mental health conditions account for 70% of global deaths (38 million people per year).

  • Low and middle-income countries account for 86% of the burden of premature deaths from NCDs.

  • NCDs are estimated to cost the global economy $47 trillion in the next 20 years.​

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Pandemics
  • The probability of a future zoonotic spillover event resulting in a pandemic of COVID-19 magnitude or larger is between 2.5-3.3% annually.

    • This translates to a 22-28% chance that another outbreak on the magnitude of COVID-19 will occur within the next 10 years, and a 47-57% chance that one will occur within the next 25 years.

  • The rate of viral spillovers from animals to human beings has been increasing, as seen in diseases like Ebola, Zika, and African swine fever.

  • Engineered viruses, whether released in an accidental lab lead or an intentional act of biological warfare, have the potential to induce devastating death tolls far worse than a naturally occurring pathogen.

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Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
  • AMR was the direct cause of 1.27 million global deaths in 2019 and was further associated with 5 million deaths.

  • AMR burden is highest in poorer areas like sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Eastern Europe, and Southern Latin America.

  • A 2019 United Nations report estimated that without radical changes to current antibiotic practices, drug-resistant diseases could force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 and cause 10 million deaths per year by 2050.

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Vaccine availability and hesitancy
  • COVID-19 illuminated the already prevalent problem of vaccine availability and global access inequity.

    • As of September 2022, 74.7% of people in high-income countries and 77.7% of people in upper middle-income countries were vaccinated; only 22.6% of people in low-income countries and 56.3% of people in lower middle-income countries had been vaccinated.

  • At the same time, vaccine hesitancy has, according to one literature review, 'escalated in scope and scale' worldwide and is connected to global increasing usage of social media and decreasing trust in authority, among other factors​.

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Mosquito-borne diseases
  • In 2020, there were 241 million cases of malaria and 627,000 deaths, mostly children under five in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Half of the world’s population is at risk for contracting dengue fever, with as many as 1 in 100 people contracting one of the four types of dengue each year.

    • Since the 1950s, the incidence of dengue has increased over 30-fold (over 500-fold for some variants), with outbreaks in more than 100 countries.

  • 200,000 cases of yellow fever occur annually, causing 30,000 deaths, 90% in Africa; 20-50% of infected persons who develop severe disease die.

Microscope
THE SOLUTIONS

What can we do about it?

1

Global health programs:
charities, NGOs, or government-nonprofit partnerships running cost-effective interventions that directly address problems with NCDs, mosquito-borne illnesses, etc.

2

Policy change:
advocating for new health policies on global, regional, national, or local levels that address vaccine availability, antibiotic practices, etc.

3

Research:
exploration or innovation of new health treatments or interventions.

He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.

Thomas Carlyle

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