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  • Infectious Diseases, Misinformation Among Urgent Health Challenges For The Next Decade

    by Kate Borbon .
Infectious Diseases, Misinformation Among Urgent Health Challenges For The Next Decade
PHOTO BY iStock
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its list of the most urgent health challenges facing the world for the next decade, and it includes issues such as the spread of infectious diseases, the proliferation of misinformation, drug resistance, and many more.

    The list, which was published on Monday, January 13, 2020, was put together with the help of input from leading experts around the world. The WHO says that the list reflects the fact that leaders are not investing enough resources in vital health systems and priorities. This then puts countless lives, livelihoods, and economies in harm’s way.

    Among the health challenges in the list are infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which are predicted to account for an estimated four million deaths in 2020.

    Vaccine-preventable diseases, in particular, continue to be a major cause of deaths worldwide. In 2019 alone, measles killed 140,000 lives (many of them children) while 156 cases of wild poliovirus were recorded, the highest number since 2014.

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    The continued dissemination of misinformation on the Internet, particularly on social media, has also been named a significant health challenge the world needs to address in the coming years, especially because this has led to the erosion of patients’ trust in health workers and public institutions.

    “Trust helps to shape whether patients are likely to rely on health services and follow a worker’s advice — around vaccinations, taking medicines, or using condoms,” the WHO writes.

    The organization continues, “The anti-vaccination movement has been a significant factor in the rise of deaths in preventable diseases.”

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    Another item in the list is anti-microbial resistance (AMR), which could reverse the advancements made in the field of medicine. AMR is “the ability of bacteria, viruses and some parasites to develop ways to block medicines used to fight them, so that the medicines may no longer work,” CNN writes.

    AMR is caused by multiple factors, including unregulated prescription and use of antibiotics, poor sanitation practices, lack of access to quality medicine, and more.

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    In no particular order, the other challenges included in the list are the following:

    • Climate change
    • Healthcare amid crisis and conflict
    • Unfair access to healthcare
    • Lack of access to medicines, vaccines, and other healthcare products
    • Preparation for epidemics
    • Unsafe foods and products (e.g., tobacco, e-cigarettes)
    • Under-investment in health workers
    • Safety of adolescents
    • New technologies (e.g., gene editing, synthetic biology)
    • Lack of access to clean health facilities

    Infectious diseases have also been named the leading cause of mortality among kids ages five years and below. Click here to learn more.

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