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Last issue we focused on the NHS and the challenges it faces over the next decade and what will be needed to tackle this.

But what about the wider picture? What about the world? What can we expect further afield with today’s increased globalisation.

The World Health Organisation has compiled a list of the 10 most urgent health issues that they think we need to be concerned about and act upon.

All equally important and interconnected but I have tried to put them together to make sense.

First off there’s Air pollution and climate change – It is known that nine out of ten of us breathe polluted air every day. We also know despite the numerous attempts by the world’s most powerful people to dispute this, that the primary cause of air pollution is the burning of fossil fuels!

It is also a major contributor to climate change, especially global warming, which impacts people’s health in different ways whether directly or indirectly.

It is thought that more than 1.6 billion people live in places where combinations such as drought, famine, conflict, and population displacement, along with weak health services, will leave them without access to basic care so called – Fragile and vulnerable settings – which threatens everyone’s health in that area.

This along with – Weak or inadequate primary health care facilities in many low- or middle-income countries lack adequate health care facilities to care for its population.

Vaccine hesitancy – The reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines threatens to reverse progress. Only one disease – Smallpox has been totally eradicated by vaccination worldwide and this was declared so by the WHO in 1979. Some infections such as measles, mumps and pertussis have shown a renewed resurgence in recent years.

Global influenza pandemic – The world WILL face another influenza pandemic – the only thing that is NOT known is when it will hit and how severe it will be.

Ebola and other very contagious and deadly pathogens can break out at any time given the right conditions – The context in which an epidemic erupts is critical, rural outbreaks versus densely populated urban areas or conflict-affected areas can make the difference to how it spreads and how quick the response will be.

Antimicrobial resistance – The ability of bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi to resist medicines – threatens to send us back to a time when infections were not easily treated – we are already seeing this in hospitals now.

HIV – Although largely controllable in the west, the epidemic continues to rage with nearly a million people every year dying of HIV/AIDS worldwide.

Dengue – A mosquito-borne disease that causes flu-like symptoms but can be lethal so as the climate changes and the mosquitos spread further afield so does the disease with increasing levels of fatality.

But let’s not forget that Non- communicable diseases such as Heart Disease, Diabetes and cancer are collectively responsible for over 70 percent of all deaths worldwide that’s 41 million people.

So there’s a lot we cannot control in the world but there is also a lot we can and we can plan to tackle the above as long as we tackle it together!

E-mail me at jasonjones@doctors.org.uk

Dr J

Dr Jones 

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