Current Global Health Concerns
We are all concerned about the health of our globe or rather we can say overall health of the people on this globe is one of the biggest concern. Global health is a collaborative trans-national research and action for promoting health for all (Beaglehole & Bonita, 2010). It covers underlying social, economic, environmental and political determinants of health that have a huge impact on the global health. There are many issues that need attention and resolution. Here I am discussing about the three major global health priorities that require urgent action. The first one is to provide easy availability and accessibility to healthcare services in rural areas. Access to healthcare services is critical for rural residents. People living in far remote rural areas often experience barriers to healthcare that limit their ability to get the important care they need in time. In order to enable them to have sufficient healthcare access, necessary and appropriate services must be available which can be accessed in a timely manner. Global Health University’s “Unite for Sight”, a non-profit organization (2015) mentions that rural residents have limited access to health care and also that these areas are underserved by primary care physicians. Many rural individuals travel substantial distances for getting primary medical care. To get a deeper understanding of this, let us consider facts and figures which would provide a clearer picture about rural residents’ healthcare needs. According to WHO (2009), rural and remote areas are usually lacking sufficient numbers of health workers in the majority of the countries. Approximately one half of the global population lives in rural areas, but these areas are served by only 38% of the total nursing workforce and by less than a quarter of the total physicians’ workforce. This data varies from country to country. In USA 9% of registered physicians practice in rural areas, whereas 20% of the population live in rural areas (WHO, 2009). Similarly, 24% of the Canadian population live in rural areas for which only 9.3% of the physician and other healthcare workers are available. These are the data for developed countries. Think about the situation of public health in rural areas of developing countries, such as in South Africa rural areas are inhabited by 46% of the total population, but only 12% of doctors and 19% of nurses are working there (WHO, 2009). The given figures are enough to have an estimate of the health care needs and its availability in the rural areas of the world.
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Next focus is on the need of awareness and knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases and use of safe sex methods. STIs have a huge impact on sexual and reproductive health. More than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired every day worldwide (WHO, 2016). More than 500 million people are living with genital HSV (herpes) infection. At any point in time, more than 290 million women have an HPV infection, one of the most common STIs. There is need of counselling and behavioural interventions that offer primary prevention against STIs (including HIV), as well as against unintended pregnancies. It includes sex education, pre- and post-test counselling, safer sex/risk-reduction counselling, condom promotion that targets key populations such as sex workers and also education and counselling tailoring the needs of adolescents. Appiah-Agyekum and Kayi (2013) mention in their study conducted at University of Ghana that the students had little knowledge of contraceptives. The results of this study varied depending on the socio-demographic characteristic of students (such as age, sex, relationship or marital status, educational level, religion, sexually active or inactive status). In Africa, STI control efforts have feasible results as resources are limited. Unfortunately, lack of public awareness, lack of training of health workers, and widespread stigma around STIs remain barriers to greater and more effective use of these interventions. Another example is the World Health Organization’s Country Cooperation Strategy 2006–2011 for India (WHO, 2006) outlines main health challenges, one of which is dealing effectively with communicable diseases, to promote family planning and to prevent HIV/AIDS (Cheng, Kotler & Lee, 2011). It includes concepts and techniques to improve utilization of quality services for maternal and child health, voluntary counseling and testing for HIV, and the diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). According to recent estimates by the National Family Health Survey (IIPS & Macro International, 2007), 0.36% of the general adult population in India has HIV, or between 2 million and 3.1 million people (Cheng, Kotler & Lee, 2011). The BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST), the international charity of BBC, has actively supported the government of India’s HIV/AIDS prevention and control efforts using the creative power of the media (Cheng, Kotler & Lee, 2011). Lack of accurate knowledge and enhanced stigma and discrimination toward those living with HIV/AIDS, negative perceptions associated with condoms, high dependence of the rural population on traditional cures, quacks, and myths about cures for HIV and also shame and embarrassment associated with discussions around sexual health, HIV/AIDS, STIs, and the purchase and usage of condoms are the identified barriers in education and utilization of proper healthcare services (Cheng, Kotler & Lee, 2011). There is extensive need of relationally engaging with such communities to make them aware of the health facts by winning their trust. This goal can be achieved by increasing accessibility and availability of accurate health interventions.
The next focus is on the decreasing availability of clean drinking water in the world. According to World Health Organization’s JMP report (2015), 96% of the global urban population uses improved drinking water sources, compared with 84% of the rural population. Some of the facts provided by water.org (2016) can give a clear idea about unavailability of clean drinking water in the world and are as follows-
-As announced by the World Economic Forum in January 2015, the water crisis is the #1 global risk.
– 8 out of 10 people without improved drinking water sources live in rural areas (WHO, 2015).
-663 million people in the world, i.e. 1 in 10, lack access to safe water.
-Globally, 1/3 of all schools lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation.
-Worldwide women and children spend 125 million hours each day collecting water.
-Every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease
UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) team works in over 100 countries worldwide to improve water and sanitation services. Water quality is a growing concern throughout the developing world. Drinking water sources are under increasing threat from contamination that is also impacting the health of children and also the economic and social development of communities and nations (UNICEF, 2008).
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The above given details outlines the importance and priority of the issues that addresses the urgent need of the availability and accessibility to the healthcare services in the rural areas, health education and promotion of STI’s in the developing countries and the availability of clean drinking water in the world. These issues need urgent attention and action before the global health worsens.
- Appiah-Agyekum, N. N., & Kayi, E. A. (2013). Students’ Perceptions of Contraceptives in University of Ghana. Journal of Family & Reproductive Health. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4064744/
- Beaglehole, R. & Bonita, R. (2010). What is Global Health. Retrieved from http://www.globalhealthaction.net/index.php/gha/article/download/5142/5544.
- Bulletin of the World Health Organization. (2009). Control of sexually transmitted infections and prevention of HIV transmission: mending a fractured paradigm. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/11/08-059212/en/
- Cheng, H., Kotler, P. & Lee, N. (editors) (2011). Social Marketing for Public Health: Global Trends and Success Stories. Toronto: Jones & Barlett.
- Global Health University. (2015). Unite for Sight. Retrieved from http://www.uniteforsight.org/global-health-university/urban-rural-health
- UNICEF. (2008). UNICEF handbook on water quality. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/wash/files/WQ_Handbook_final_signed_16_April_2008.pdf
- Water.org. (2016). Global Water Crisis: Water And Sanitation Facts. Retrieved from http://water.org/water-crisis/water-sanitation-facts/
- World Health Organization. (2009). Increasing access to health workers in remote and rural areas through improved retention. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/hrh/migration/background_paper.pdf
- World Health Organization. (2015). Key facts from JMP 2015 report. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/monitoring/jmp-2015-key-facts/en/
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