The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released a list of urgent, global health challenges as we usher in a new decade. The list, developed with input from experts around the world, reflects a deep concern leaders are failing to invest enough resources in core priorities.
1. Climate change
WHO says the climate crisis has a direct effect on our health. "Climate change causes more extreme weather events, exacerbates malnutrition and fuels the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria," says WHO. WHO says it will work on a set of policy options for governments to prevent or reduce the health risks of air pollution.
2. Delivering health in conflict and crisis
The conflict in countries such as the DRC and Yemen resulted in a disturbing trend that saw lives of many people affected. In DRC, for example, the conflict frustrated all efforts to stop the spread of Ebola.
3. Making healthcare fair
WHO is calling on the improvement of governance and management of public and private health services to ensure countries improve healthcare.
4. Expanding access to medicines
All around the world people barely have access to medicines, vaccines, diagnostic tools and other essential health products. Low access to quality health products threatens health and lives and fuel drug resistance.
5. Stopping infectious diseases
The root cause infectious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis is insufficient levels of financing and the weakness of health systems in endemic countries, coupled with a lack of commitment from wealthy countries, says WHO.
6. Preparing for epidemics
The challenge here is that countries spend more on responding to disease outbreaks, natural disasters and other health emergencies than preparing for and preventing them.
7. Protecting people from dangerous products
Unhealthy diets and ill-advised lifestyle choices such as tobacco use are some of the challenges WHO says we should look out for.
8. Keeping healthcare clean
WHO says one in four health facilities globally lacks basic water services. The lack of these basics in health facilities leads to poor quality care and an increased chance of infection for patients and health workers.
9. Earning public trust
With trust, patients are more likely to rely on health services.
10. Keeping adolescents safe
Over one million adolescents aged 10-19 years die every year. The leading causes of death in this age group are road injuries, HIV, suicides among others. WHO says it will issue new guidance for policymakers, health practitioners and educators, called Helping Adolescents Thrive.
11. Investing in people who defend health
WHO says under investment in education of health workers and poor pay have led to a crisis.
12. Protecting the medicines that protect us
Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) threatens to send modern medicine back decades to the pre-antibiotic era.
13. Harnessing new technologies
WHO stresses the need to understand the ethical and social implications of new technologies, so that they don’t harm the people they are intended to help.