BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Challenges of Global Health in the last Decade



Challenges are inevitable in a dynamic world like ours; especially in the area of healthcare. Before we take note of some challenging problems of global health in the last decade, it is important to appreciate the progress that global health has made so far. In May 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its annual World Health Statistics report, which monitors countries’ progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In as much as the report highlighted the fact that the international community has more work to do to improve health and achieve the SDGs, significant progress was made collectively by nations, organizations, health workers, companies, individuals and many other partners. Specifically, the following mark significant advancement in global health:

  1. Quality of data collection, disease prevention and access to adequate health care have improved in many countries
  2. Global rates for under-5 mortality have declined by 44% since 2000 and HIV cases have decreased by 35% since 2000
  3. About 60% of the at-risk malaria population had access to insecticide-treated nets, compared to 34% in 2010
  4. Approximately 86% of children receive their DTP3 vaccine and the administration of all three doses of hepatitis B vaccine reached 84% in 2015
  5. The risk of dying from one of the four major non-communicable diseases – diabetes, cancer, chronic lung disease, and cardiovascular disease – declined by 17% among people aged 30-70 since 2000

Despite these advancements, global health has faced and still faces challenges today. Changing patterns of disease and transformations in global health practice create challenges for practitioners. Below are some of the most pressing global health problems we face today:

  1. Building Public Health Systems: One of the most pressing challenges today is the need to invest in patient-centered public health systems that respond timely to the range of factors that shape patterns of health and illness.
  2. Coordinating Global Health Initiatives: Bureaucratic rules and regulations in different countries continue to hinder effective coordination, contributing to redundancies and delays in meeting global health targets. Approaches such as partnerships with the government and flexibility in regulations are needed to facilitate the coordination of global health programs.
  3. Facilitating Participation: New governing structures that link the range of global health practitioners to state and local stakeholders should be created. More so- beyond receiving aids and funds, programs and workshops that encourage and increase participation are essential.
  4. Prioritizing the Needs of the Most Marginalized: The needs of the most marginalized populations have remained neglected. As a result, declining poverty rates have been accompanied by widening inequalities. In the next decade, it is essential to prioritize the health needs of the most marginalized populations, and to devise innovative initiatives to work with these populations to improve their health outcomes.
  5. Increasingly fragile health of sub-Saharan Africa:  The last decade witnessed widening gaps in health worldwide to the extent that the entire African continent is left behind in global health progress. For millions of children today, particularly in Africa, the biggest health challenge is to survive until their fifth birthday, and their chances of doing so are less than they were a decade ago. This is a result of the continuing impact of communicable diseases. Overall, 35% of Africa’s children are at higher risk of death than they were 10 years ago.
  6. Global increase in non-communicable diseases, especially in Africa: Here, life expectancy is always shorter than almost any part of the world. In some African countries, it has been cut by 20 years and life expectancy for men is less than 46 years. The international community must continue to carry Africa along so that the poor health systems and outcomes stop sabotaging global health efforts and progress.

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