Global Health Guide – Health for a Better World
Good health is crucial to living a fulfilling and happy life. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to 3.5 billion people – almost half the world's population – lack access to the health services they need.
Better World Info’s ➡️ platform for health provides over 18,500 resources on disease, health and politics, health education, healthy lifestyles, mental health, ageing, access to healthcare, our right to health, vaccinations, and healthcare in the developing world.
We believe that disparities in healthcare are one of the worst forms of inequality. Everyone has the right to sanitation, clean air, affordable medication, and access to trained medical professionals and quality infrastructure, free from discrimination and judgement.
Privatisation, austerity policies, health worker shortages, lack of social funding, the influence of Big Pharma, poor diets, the global food crisis, and the Coronavirus pandemic have all contributed to the setback of global healthcare goals. Sustainable Development Goal 3, ‘Good Health and Wellbeing’ must become a priority for governments and leaders as targets remain unmet.
There is an urgent need to strengthen global health systems. By providing adequate funding, as well as education, research, and intervention, health disparities in low-resource settings around the world can be eliminated.
"In health there is freedom. Health is the first of all liberties" - Henri-Frederic Amiel
For up to the minute news by health, nutrition, and wellness experts, as well as important organisations, healthcare advocates, and leaders in the medical field, be sure to follow our Twitter lists on public health and healthy lifestyles.
Our information by disease category boasts over 15,000 resources all curated by a physician. We provide important information on prevention, developments in treatment, reports, organisations, and the latest research on the world's most deadly diseases.
In our infections section learn about the outbreaks of coronavirus, swine flu, monkeypox, malaria, AIDs/HIV, and other sexual transmitted diseases. There are also sections dedicated to cancer, psychiatry, neurology, diabetes, cardiology, and even mental health.
Chronic diseases are leading cause of death worldwide. In the U.S. heart disease and cancers are responsible for 40% of all deaths. Ischaemic heart disease is responsible for 16% of the world's total deaths.
Noncommunicable diseases accounted for 74% of deaths globally in 2019. People living in low-income countries are far more likely to die of a communicable disease. The figures are falling significantly, but even easily preventable diseases such as diarrhoea rank in the top 5 causes of death in developing nations.
Discover our special section dedicated to common diseases in children, including important organisations, health portals, and information on downs syndrome, autism, and ADHD.
Promoting Healthy Lifestyles and Disease Prevention
Coined by Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus, the phrase ‘prevention is better than cure’ has become a fundamental principle behind public health strategies around the world. Simple everyday lifestyle choices dramatically reduce our chances of falling ill.
Health is of course different for everyone, which is why we have created comprehensive guides dedicated to health for men, women, senior citizens, and children. Below we outline some important measures which can help us take back control of our health and improve our overall wellbeing.
We are what we eat. A balanced healthy diet is crucial for good physical and mental health. It is important to eat a variety of different food groups, to consider our nutritional intake, and limit our consumption of sugar and processed foods. Find further information on vegetarian and vegan diets here.
Physical activity is especially vital in today's society where many of us spend most of working days sedentary. Shockingly, only 28% of Americans are meeting CDC physical activity guidelines. This is having serious ramifications on obesity levels, rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even depression. Exercise is a known mood lifter and boasts many other benefits. Checkout our guides to fitness, sport, yoga, and exercise for the elderly.
Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Although the global number of smokers has significantly fallen, 22% of the worlds population still use tobacco. Smoking related illnesses include cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and lung diseases. Harmful use of alcohol kills more than 3 million people every year. The health and social costs of alcohol abuse is extraordinary.
Effective stress management. The vast majority of people report experiencing high levels of stress in their daily lives to the point of becoming overwhelmed or unable to cope. If not managed correctly, it can lead to a variety of health problems, including depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease. Methods that we can practice from our homes and adapt into our lives include yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques.
Protection against infections. The best way to protect ourselves from infections is by maintaining a high level of personal hygiene. Simple habits such as washing hands our hands thoroughly and regularly, avoiding close contact with sick people, preparing food safely, and staying up to date with vaccinations all make a big difference in our ability to avoid and fight infections.
Global health issues vary from country to country and are worsened by poor funding, medical staff shortages, inadequate education, weak infrastructure, and inadequate health policies.
One of the biggest challenges in developing countries is the lack of basic health services and resources. 3.6 billion people do not have access to clean water and basic sanitation. Poor sanitation and contaminated water are linked to transmission of infectious diseases such as cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid.
Huge shortages of healthcare workers is another factor contributing to health inequality. The WHO estimates that by 2030, an additional 10 million health care workers will be needed, primarily in developing countries. Even in countries where there is adequate staffing, the distribution is limited to urbanised areas, leaving rural areas seriously lacking.
More than 3 billion people in the world cannot reach a healthcare facility within one hour on foot. This geographical barrier leaves poor families vulnerable and makes them much less likely to seek medical care when needed.
Infectious diseases remain a major problem in low-income countries. More than 90% of deaths from AIDS, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis, and malaria occur in developing nations. The spread of these treatable diseases needs to become a top priority to end healthcare inequality. Other serious issues in developing countries include lack of maternal care, malnutrition, and sexually transmitted diseases.
To improve healthcare worldwide, countries must work together, provide greater investment, and ensure that everyone has the right to health and access to medicine, regardless of country of birth or economic status. We need to urgently scale up our efforts to provide universal health coverage. Half of the world still lacks access to health services and 100 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty due to health expenses.
Even rich countries such as the US still do not provide guaranteed affordable access to healthcare. 85 million Americans either don’t have any form of health insurance or are underinsured. 30% of the adult population skip medical treatment because they cannot afford it, these figures are even higher in Black and Hispanic populations.
This system puts $69 billion per year profit before people and it is being replicated in other developed countries. In the UK, the once celebrated NHS is being systematically dismantled and sold to private healthcare companies for the highest price.
The Next Pandemic and New Threats to Global Health
Global threats to health change over time. The world's biggest threat to our health is undoubtedly climate change, the effects of which are being felt across the globe. One in four deaths can now be attributed to preventable environmental causes of which climate change is exacerbating. We examine various consequences of climate inaction including extreme weather events, drought and famine, floods, and heatwaves. Find further information on climate change mitigation, solutions, and how we can keep the 1.5C goal within reach.
Air pollution now accounts for 7 million premature deaths annually. The situation is so bad that 99% of the planet's population breathe air every day that exceeds the guideline limits recommended by WHO. Low and middle-income countries suffer from the highest levels of dangerous exposure.
Many parts of the world are also in the midst of a mental health crisis. One in every four people will struggle with mental health in their lifetimes, and 350 million people worldwide suffer with depression. Underfunding, lack of support and access to treatment, poor awareness of mental illnesses, and growing isolation are just a few factors which have contributed to the magnitude of this crisis. Devastatingly, suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15-19 year-olds.
Conflict, war, and persecution has forcibly displaced 71 million people who are living as refugees or asylum seekers. One in three experience high levels of mental health disorders, and there is a huge lack of psychosocial support for these people as the majority are located in low-income countries with scarce services.
Arguably the biggest threat to all life on Earth is that of nuclear weapons. Even their mere existence poses a threat to current and future generations. As the most dangerous weapon on Earth, we must fight for nuclear disarmament and bring the world back from the brink of destruction.
Another major concern is the next influenza pandemic. Experts agree that the world will face another global pandemic such as Coronavirus, it is just a matter of when. In the meantime, the focus must remain on preparedness and strengthening global defences and response systems for such health emergencies.
Noncommunicable disease including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease now account for 70% of deaths worldwide, 15 million of which are premature. These diseases are driven by 5 risk factors – tobacco use, lack of physical activity, alcohol abuse, poor diet leading to obesity, and air pollution.
Finally, antibiotic resistance which is now regarded as one of the greatest threats to human health. It is estimated that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was directly responsible for 1.3 million deaths in 2019, and was a contributing factor in 5 million deaths. Driven by overuse of antibiotics in humans, and animals (Big Meat), AMR puts the gains of modern medicine at risk, infections become harder to treat, and medical procedures become more risky.
Universal Healthcare for a Better World
A world without universal healthcare creates vast inequalities, divisions, and suffering. We must break the cycles of poverty and poor health and ensure that quality, affordable, and people centred healthcare is available to everyone.
The map on the left shows in green the parts of the world with universal health care, red for those without, and blue for those where healthcare is free but not universal.
"Without health care, how can children reach their full potential? And without a healthy, productive population, how can societies realize their aspirations?" - UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake
We often take our health for granted. It is important that we value our health and that we take measures to protect and care for it. By taking small steps towards a healthier lifestyle, making sure we get enough sleep, reducing our levels of stress, and scheduling regular checkups, we can all enjoy healthier and happier lives.
We believe that no one should get sick just because they are poor. Good health should not be reserved for the rich. It is the same as any other human right, and the SDGs play an important role in ensuring greater health equality. Access to safe drinking water, sanitation, nutritious food, adequate housing, education, and safe working conditions all contribute to both a healthier planet and population.
“The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition” - Constitution of the WHO
Author: Rachael Mellor, 25.01.24 licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0
For further reading on Global Health see below ⬇️
Featured Organisation of the Month
The Global Fund
The Global Fund is a 21st-century partnership organization designed to accelerate the end of the AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria epidemics. Founded in 2002, the Global Fund is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases. The Global Fund raises and invests nearly US$4 billion a year to support programs run by local experts in countries and communities most in need.
Featured Online Resource of the Month
K4Health shares accurate, up-to-date knowledge and tools to strengthen family planning and other public health efforts worldwide. They envision a knowledge sharing revolution in which program managers and service providers collaborate with and learn from each other, adapting and using knowledge to build stronger health systems.