The Ebola epidemic ravaging large parts of West Africa is the largest and most severe epidemic of this virus in decades. It has entered large cities and urban slums, resulting in the unprecedented number of cases and deaths. These negative consequences have translated into more misery and hardship for populations that are already deeply impoverished and have been further severely traumatized by the outbreak. The virus also spread to surrounding countries such as the United States and Spain, alarming the global population. The fragility of health systems in our highly globalised world cannot be understated because even with advanced medical technologies, the global health threat remains a pressing issue. Governments are actively improving health institutes and other initiatives to improve health both within their country and globally. It is the most serious problem facing the world today because of the higher speed of disease spreading a globalised world, large world population still living in extreme conditions and the fact that nobody is spared from health problems.
The global health threat is the most serious problem because of the high speed at which diseases can spread to cause pandemics in our globalised world. Global disease outbreaks pose a serious problem because of the increased interconnectivity. Pathogens can spread very quickly as the human population increases. With increased air travel and interaction with people all around the world, a pathogen has the potential to wipe out a large percentage of the global population. A recent example of pandemic is the H1N1 influenza in 2009, responsible for more than 17,000 deaths worldwide. The HIV pandemic also affected approximately 36.9 million people globally in 2018 and claimed millions of lives. The severity of pandemics as a global health threat led to projects such as Predict, which aims to fully catalogue all viral threats, and predict which are likely to cause tomorrow’s outbreaks. The Global Virome Project is even more ambitious and aims to find and sequence almost all the viruses in birds and mammals that could potentially spill over into humans. However, with over half a million viruses still existing and undiscovered, there is a high cost of predicting the arrival of such viruses and also many complexities in getting an accurate prediction. The World Health Organization (WHO) urges countries to develop and implement national pandemic preparedness plans to mitigate the health and social effects of a pandemic. For now, this threat remains imminent and makes global health a serious problem.
Furthermore, a large population of the world are living in extreme conditions with poor healthcare and sanitation, making them especially vulnerable to diseases and illnesses. Despite the relentless progress in the field of medicine, global health remains a serious problem due to these inequalities. In a number of African countries south of the Sahara, life expectancy is less than 40 years, half the average lifespan in rich and developed countries of around 80 years. People in developing countries face harsh realities of sexually transmitted diseases, high child mortality rate and malnutrition. With weak health services, they are left without access to healthcare and treatment. For instance, Africa is the region most affected by HIV, with 25 of the 34 million infected living there. However, only 0.001% are able to receive drugs that help improve their lives.
Even the rich are not spared from health issues. Global health threat remains the most serious problem facing the world because it affects everyone. The increased affluence in developed countries has led to a rise in the “rich man’s diseases”. These include non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, that account for over 70% of deaths worldwide. 15 million people die prematurely from them. This is attributed to their lifestyles of increasing oily food and being more sedentary. It is easily preventable but education efforts to reduce obesity and diabetes have still largely been ineffective.
However, some may argue that the global health threat is no longer the most serious problem facing the world because of new technological advancements to improve global health. Diseases have been eradicated, such as smallpox and rinderpes. Anti-retroviral therapy has also helped in prolonging the lifespan of those with HIV, allowing them to continue leading a normal life. Vaccines are also widely available to increase herd immunity and prevent the spread of pathogens.
However, these advancements are not always effective because of the constantly adapting nature of pathogens that render cures ineffective. For instance, antibiotic resistance has become a greater problem due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics. Around 600000 cases of Tuberculosis were found to be resistant to Rifampicin, currently the most effective first line drug. In addition, in many societies today there is greater resistance to vaccines due to false information about its negative side effects. News reports propagated the fake news that use of vaccines causes autism, preventing parents from giving their child the vaccine. There has now been a rise in measles cases in the US, when this disease was once thought to be eradicated.
In conclusion, the global health threat is the most serious problem facing the world today. Despite the many other problems, this affects every person in the world, causes great destruction through the highly interconnected nature of our globalised world, and is not easily solved. It is no wonder that large amounts of money, resources, and talent are put into ensuring the world we live in is healthier and better.