How much do we care for the global movements that relate to health? Each country, community and ultimately, each family and individual eventually faces a health challenge that consumes all the energy with one objective only – to restore personal health or overcome a common health issue that is threatening an area.
We feel, at the same time as being aware of global problems, often overwhelmed by them. Nevertheless, it is up to us, only us, individually to take part in dealing with them or to prepare for the consequences.
I found a summary of a book that deals with the global health today, with a special emphasis on the women’s part in it. The book by Melinda Gates describes her thoughts and engagements through the Gates family foundation promoting health globally:
“Global health is an area full of contradictions. Here are just a few. Those who most require effective and equitable health systems are least able to shape the priorities and implementation of policies made by elites in capital cities. Nearly 70% of the global health workforce are women, but the leading decision makers “in global health policy and research are still a small, closely connected network of mostly western, male, senior individuals”, according to a 2019 WHO paper on gender equity. We live on a planet with almost 8 billion people, yet there is increased concentration of power and resources in a small number of individuals and companies. Making improvements in people’s lives requires dealing with complex issues such as governance, poverty, violence, gender, and empowerment, but the bulk of resources are devoted to specific diseases, technical intervention, and measurement. These contradictions come to a head in Melinda Gates’s book The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World. In a mix of personal anecdotes, stories of inspiring women, and statistics, Gates argues that women are the key to improving health worldwide, and this requires women helping each other to “lift each other up”.” (Source: The Lancet, September 28, 2019)
Books such as this one act like a spotlight that directs our attention to multiple health challenges. Today there are many: from outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and diphtheria, drug-resistant pathogens, growing rates of obesity and physical inactivity to the health impacts of environmental pollution and climate change and multiple humanitarian crises.
Let us look at some of them. For example, air pollution and climate change. Air pollution is considered as the greatest environmental threat to health today. It is a terrible thought and, unfortunately, the fact that nine out of ten people breathe polluted air every day. Microscopic pollutants in the air can penetrate respiratory and circulatory systems, damaging the lungs, heart and brain, causing prematurely damages or death from diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart and lung disease. Around 90% of these deaths are in low- and middle-income countries, with high volumes of emissions from industry, transport and agriculture, as well as the use of dirty fuels particularly for cooking stoves and heating in homes.
The list of threats is long enough, including weak primary care in many places around the world connected with fragile settings and living conditions.
Another issue that has opened a wide discussion is vaccination hesitancy. In addition, HIV occurrence and prevention, antimicrobial resistance together with others are just the tip of an iceberg in the sea of challenges that we humans have as a part of our lives today.
We are responsible not only for our own but also for the health of our closer and wider communities. It gives impetus and makes sense to our health awareness activities, which, although they may look small, are necessary and important for health development globally.