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What You Need to Know About the Top Global Health Threats in 2019

My usual practice involves assessing and treating patients one-on-one.

Not only is health important to individuals, but also at the level of the family unit, community, province, nation and world.

With that in mind, the World Health Organization has identified top 10 priorities for global health.

Some of the recommendations may directly affect your health, while others may seem far removed from us in North America (looking at you Dengue fever).

Ultimately, all health threats can be relevant to you with our connected global society where people and goods come and go from one country to another.

Here I will focus on 5 global health threats that could affect you and actions you can take to combat them.

1. Air Pollution and Climate Change

Politics abound around this issue. But, the evidence speaks for itself.

For example, if you live in a big city for 10 or more years you are more likely to suffer from lung cancer.

So, a move away from fossil fuels is in order.

You can contribute to decreasing carbon emissions and pollution by using electricity wisely, taking public transit or walking instead of driving where possible.

2. Non-Communicable Diseases

Diabetes, heart disease and cancer are responsible for 70% of deaths worldwide.

Five major risk factors have been identified. The good news is most of these are within your control!

Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and air pollution are the top causes. These are made worse when poor mental health is present.

Take care of your brain and body by getting active and getting good nutrition to prevent non-communicable diseases.

3. Global Influenza Pandemic

Yearly flu vaccines are your best protection against the flu.

Their effectiveness year to year may not be 100%, but getting protected this year can afford some protection against flu strains in years to come.

So, if you do catch the flu you may have milder symptoms than expected due to cross protection.

4. Antimicrobial Resistance

Arguably one of the biggest advances in health care was the discovery of penicillin in 1928. That is less than 100 years ago!

Antimicrobial resistance develops when antibiotics are overused or people cut their treatment with antibiotics short.

You can help decrease antimicrobial resistance by only taking antibiotics only when necessary and taking your full course as prescribed.

You probably don't need antibiotics for those sniffles, so let your care provider advise you accordingly.

5. Vaccine Hesitancy

Aside from antibiotics, vaccines are another major breakthrough in population health. They were discovered in 1796 when it was noted people who caught cowpox didn't catch smallpox!

Since that time vaccines for a number of deadly communicable diseases have been developed. Many of which have eradicated or nearly eradicated some diseases.

Today, reluctance or refusal of vaccines due to fear from popular media has become a threat and we are seeing a resurgence of harmful and deadly diseases.

For example, a 30% increase in measles cases globally. Measles can have severe effects such as pneumonia and swelling of the brain leading to death.

Protect yourself and those around you by keeping up to date on your routine vaccinations.

Want to learn more?


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