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Health Problems In The World, Diseases And Issues Report

biggest health problems in the world
Last Updated On: April 26, 2017

Health problems in the world include various types of infectious diseases. Health issues may also come in the form of noncommunicable conditions, such as diabetes or heart trouble. The spread of disease does not stop at the border of any specific country. With the increase in international travel over the past several decades, it is now easier than ever before for bacteria and germs to spread.

This means that infectious diseases that begin in one country can reach another at a very rapid pace. Additionally, drug resistance is on the rise, which makes it more difficult to treat specific conditions. Furthermore, because of aspects such as lack of education and no access to health screenings, certain noncommunicable diseases are also on the rise worldwide.

Sobering Statistics

Approximately 35 million deaths occur annually due to noncommunicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. These conditions are responsible for approximately two-thirds of the estimated 56 million deaths each year that come from such illnesses and disorders. Approximately 25 percent of these take place in individuals 60 years of age or younger.

Some of the major conditions that currently affect individuals living in various countries worldwide include tuberculosis, pneumonia, malaria, diabetes and HIV/AIDS. Certain conditions and communicable diseases can be harmful or fatal if not prevented or treated in a timely manner. Numerous health organizations across the globe are sharing information and working together to solve some of these problems. Some of the most prevalent global health issues include the following:

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease causes more deaths globally than any other type of disorder. An estimated 18 million people died from such diseases in 2015. Additionally, cardiovascular disease represents approximately one-third of all deaths throughout the world.

Over 80 percent of heart attacks and chronic heart conditions occur in low and middle income countries. There is a broad range of reasons for these statistics. Such reasons include lack of proper health screenings and poor diet. In addition, sophisticated medical care is typically unavailable in the developing world. This leads to many fatalities that could have been prevented if the individual lived in a developed country.

Cancer

Cancer is among one of the most serious health issues of the world. Almost 60 percent of all cases of cancer deaths worldwide occur in lower income countries. Approximately 5 ½ million individuals die from this disease each year throughout the world. Cancer patients in advanced countries such as the United States have a substantially higher recovery rate than those suffering from cancer in underdeveloped nations. The reasons for this include a lack of education regarding risk factors.

Additionally, in countries where modern technology is not available to detect the disease early, a higher mortality rate exists. This is due to the fact that the disease has often reached an advanced stage before diagnosis and treatment. In certain countries, accessibility and availability of treatment are challenging, even for those who are aware that they have the disease. This can lead to lack of proper care and substandard help with pain relief.

Lung cancer is a highly preventable form of cancer that has reached epidemic proportions in virtually all areas of the world. Unfortunately, because smoking is popular in both developed and underdeveloped countries, the statistics are very similar. Using tobacco products is the biggest external cause of many types of cancer. However, lung cancer would be particularly rare if not for the popularity of cigarettes throughout the world.

In 2013, the World Health Assembly asked governments across the globe to help reduce the prevalence of cigarette smoking by 30 percent by 2025. The World Health Assembly cited cost as the easiest and quickest way to accomplish this task. They believe that a reduction of approximately 30 percent can be achieved through the implementation of specific excise taxes on tobacco.

In addition, they requested that certain countries achieve this reduction by doubling the inflation-adjusted price of cigarettes. It is not yet known whether these measures will help. However, some researchers believe that smoking reduction in third world countries would be difficult to achieve without large price increases.

Diabetes

In 2014, among those 18 years of age or older, the global prevalence of diabetes was approximately nine percent. In 2013, an estimated one and a half million deaths were caused directly by diabetes. Over 80 percent of these cases occurred in low and middle income nations.

The World Health Organization projects that by the year 2030, diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death in the world. In certain countries, those with type I diabetes–which manifests in early childhood–often die. Sadly, a simple drug referred to as insulin can prevent most if not all of these deaths.

Type II diabetes is often hereditary, but many individuals develop the disorder due to obesity, lack of physical activity and a poor diet. Again, lack of education about proper food choices and exercise programs can lead to a higher instance of the disorder.
International health issues also include infectious diseases. In 2010, almost 7,000,000 individuals died of infectious diseases alone. This is far more than the number of people killed in the man-made or natural catastrophes that frequently make headlines. Below are some of the most common infectious diseases worldwide:

Tuberculosis

Also referred to simply as “TB,” tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease that is easily spread from one person to the next. It is airborne, making it particularly easy to contract. The disease most commonly attacks the lungs; however, it may infect other areas of the body as well. Health researchers estimate that approximately 33 percent of the world’s population is infected with TB. Obviously, not everyone develops the active disease. This is because it can stay latent in the person’s system indefinitely. Those with latent TB are not contagious.

Eighty-five percent of all cases worldwide occur in only 22 countries, most of which are in the Middle East or sub-Saharan Africa. On the African continent, TB and HIV co-infection is a primary cause of mortality. Tuberculosis kills approximately 1.8 million individuals every year. Almost 10 million new cases are reported throughout the world on an annual basis. The American government and the governments of many other nations throughout the world are coalescing to assist those infected with the disease and keep it from spreading.

Major Health Problems in the World Include Hepatitis C

Viral hepatitis is a health challenge to many medical professionals throughout the world. The disease affects the liver and is responsible for over one million deaths annually. More than 85 percent of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries. Approximately 33 percent of the world’s population has been infected with hepatitis B. The World Health Organization also reports that approximately 40 million people across the globe live with chronic hepatitis infections. Research is currently underway to determine why all forms of hepatitis are spreading it such a rampant rate. Research has proven that contaminated water is a predominant cause of the disease. However, it is not the only cause of the disease.

AIDS and HIV– Major International Health Issues

Global health issues also include epidemics of new HIV–human immunodeficiency virus–infections. In addition, the presence of AIDS–acquired immune deficiency syndrome–is on the rise in various countries. HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS, is diagnosed at a rate of approximately 2.8 million new infections each year. In 2010, it was estimated that in certain third world countries, almost 33 percent of the population was infected with HIV.

The virus impairs and eventually destroys the human immune system. As the latter weakens, the patient becomes more susceptible to a broad range of infections. Eventually, in its most advanced stage, AIDS occurs, which quickly leads to death. However, with proper treatment, numerous individuals have lived 15 years or longer with HIV before AIDS developed.

Sadly, in underdeveloped countries, no treatment is available other than palliative care. Nevertheless, many health organizations continuously raise money and work with officials in various countries to fight and prevent the disease.

Influenza

Seasonal Influenza, otherwise known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. It can be severe or mild in nature, but is usually treatable. However, in countries where accessibility to antibiotics is limited, the disease can lead to untimely death. In addition, both elderly individuals and children are at a high risk for serious complications if not properly cared for when suffering from the flu.

A vaccine is available for many strains of the disease. Nevertheless, such vaccines are not accessible or affordable for many individuals who live in low income nations. This makes it one of the major health problems in the world, despite the fact that vaccines have been discovered.

Pneumonia

More than 1.6 million men and women die from international health issues such as pneumonia every year. This makes it the number one vaccine preventable cause of death in the world. Over half of fatalities from pneumonia occur in children. In developing countries, more than 50 percent of children who receive medical treatment still die. This is usually due to sepsis or meningitis, both of which are difficult to treat in third world countries. Global health issues, such as pneumonia, are being studied by the World Health Organization and certain global, nonprofit medical foundations.

Malaria

Malaria is responsible for more than 790,000 deaths, annually. This makes it one of the more serious global health issues. It is estimated that approximately 225 million people contract the disease each year. Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes in most cases, and is a parasitic disease. It is particularly prevalent in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Over 80 percent of all cases trace back to these regions.

In 2013, approximately 440,000 African children died from malaria prior to reaching the age of five. However, despite this grim statistic, between 2000 and 2013, the prevalence of malaria was reduced globally by 30 percent. This was due to an expansion of worldwide malaria interventions. The disease affects mostly children and those living in poverty. It will likely be among the most serious international health issues for at least another decade.

Childhood Diseases

Almost eight million children under five years of age die from disease and malnutrition on an annual basis. Among the more common children’s health problems in the world are measles, mumps, and even polio in certain countries. Major causes of death in newborns include complications of premature birth, birth asphyxia, sepsis and meningitis. Other common causes of death among children less than five years of age in lesser developed countries include pneumonia and diarrhea from contaminated water.

Fortunately, health issues in the world are being addressed by various foundations and organizations. Most have specific goals regarding the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. In addition, accessibility to medical care and vaccinations are top priorities of many of these organizations. Hopefully, in future years, researchers will find ways to lower mortality rates and disability from various diseases around the world.

Sources / References:

American Cancer Society
Health Issues
Global Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health — So Near and Yet So Far
Diabetes Office of Global Affairs (OGA)

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