The Top 5 Global Health Issues in 2015

There are several health issues that nurses, doctors, and administrators face every day. However, some of these conditions are more prevalent than others. These health conditions do not only affect people in the U.S.; they are health problems that affect people worldwide. Many of these problems are preventable, yet a lack of resources allows them to run rampant. These issues are also costing millions of dollars in health care costs and lost productivity, and they need to be addressed. Take a look at these top five global health issues and why they are so problematic:

1. Cancer
In 2015 in the U.S. alone, there were an estimated 1,658,370 new cancer cases diagnosed and 589,430 cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. Worldwide, cancer takes more lives than tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV combined. Why? A lack of resources. While the U.S. is making considerable strides in cancer research and treatment, other countries, don’t have the money or doctors to look after people with cancer. Some countries don’t view cancer as a large issue, and aren’t willing to invest in the care as a result, according to NPR. Many people who deal with this health condition head on are the health workers coming to the aid of sick patients who can’t afford hospital care and chemotherapy. As cancer continues to grow and take more lives, hopefully more countries will hopefully realize the severity of this global health issue.

“The goal is to prevent 21 million deaths within the next 15 years.”

For years, HIV and AIDS have been at the forefront of global health issues, taking millions of lives in varying countries each year. Yet global health workers and policy makers have taken proactive steps to fight this condition and lower the number of people getting sick through research, advocacy, and new treatments. However, even in 2015, it’s still a major problem that needs to be addressed, and many people fear that it may bounce back and spike mortality rates once again. Currently, the goal is to prevent 21 million deaths within the next 15 years. Yet this goal might be hard to achieve, as many people in poverty-stricken countries don’t know they have the disease, allowing it to spread like wildfire. Hopefully, continual measures to educate the public and implement testing will help to eventually end this health issue.

3. Mental illness
Mental health issues are continuing to arise in the U.S. and abroad. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. dealt with some form of mental illness in any given year. Another 1 in 5 U.S. children deal with some type of mental disorder during their lifetime. While these numbers seem drastic in the U.S., it is just as prevalent in other countries. Mental illness can affect anyone, at anytime, anywhere. It includes a large spectrum of mental disorders, ranging from mild anxiety to severe post-traumatic stress disorder. With constant war, political strife, and terrorist attacks happening around the world, mental illness is becoming more and more apparent. Luckily, countries including the U.S. and Ethiopia are taking charge to address these issues with mental illness by educating health workers on how to help people with mental health problems and opening more mental health facilities. Yet there is still much to be done. More countries need to recognize the effect of mental illness and take a proactive stance toward helping citizens get the treatment they so desperately need.

4. Lack of technology
Technology and medicine are becoming continuously intertwined. Several medical advances have been made thanks to the help of technology. Yet some countries, including the U.S., tend to have more access to medical technology than other countries. When a crisis occurs, technology is a driving force that can help health workers stay in touch and updated on the latest developments. For instance, when Ebola broke out in 2014, health workers in Liberia began using an app called mHero that helped them connect with one another as well as the Ministry of Health to exchange updates and news. In cases like this, mobile technology helps people handle crises and understand what to do next. Instead of letting crises get out of hand, it can help minimize the chaos. Sadly, not every country has the means to develop or provide their health workers with the technology they need. If more countries begin implementing telehealth and integrating technology into their medicine, many health issues could be solved with ease.

5. Family planning
Family planning is an issue in almost every country in the world. Women and teenagers get pregnant and don’t have the means to provide for the baby or the finances to seek out alternative options. As a result, children become orphaned or attempt to survive with little to no food and water. In many countries, including the U.S., the idea of abortion and contraception is controversial, giving women few places to turn if they find themselves in this situation. However, health workers and policy makers are working to resolve this issue. The organization FP2020 and others are finding ways to distribute contraceptives to women in every part of the world so that they can plan for a family properly.

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