All is Not Lost: Public Health Challenges and their Solutions
With the advent of technology, numerous breakthroughs and advancements have been achieved in the global health system, ranging from the development of vaccines and more effective drugs, productive researches related to healthcare and, improved health-care facilities as well as infrastructure.
However, there still remain numerous challenges pertaining to the global public health which are yet to be overcome. These multifaceted challenges are diverse in nature and must be addressed globally in collaboration.Firstly, there is an increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) worldwide, such that around 36 million deaths each year are caused by NCDs.
Cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases, diabetes and neuropsychiatric illnesses can be classified into this group of diseases, which results in premature mortality. Modified lifestyle of people is believed to be the key factor behind the emergence of the NCDs which are widely prevalent today, in both the developed and developing countries.
To make matters worse, low and middle-income economies are dually challenged with the prevalence of both infectious and non-communicable diseases . This can be attributed to the inefficient healthcare facilities and infrastructure found in such countries which need to be improved. NCDs are already on the global health agenda and in 2013, governments took on the target to reduce deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025. (Adams, 2015).
Achieving this is possible through the development and enforcement of national action plans on NCDs, maintenance of a sound surveillance system to observe the statistics of the NCDs, spreading health literacy and promotion of healthy ways of living among the masses.Similarly, the issue of drug resistance also poses a constant threat to the global public health.
Research data reveals that drug resistance has tremendously increased worldwide. Drug resistance refers to a condition wherein a microbe successfully withstands a drug, thus rendering that drug ineffective for use. Diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis have recently gained higher incidences and impose a greater risk of death because of the ineffectiveness of the drugs used for their treatment.
Improper use of medicine by the people is a general cause of drug resistance. But the question arises how can we combat drug resistance? Patients at their level should use only those drugs as prescribed by their physicians, strictly adhere to the dosage regimen and complete the full course.
Prevention-oriented approach, for example, maintaining good hygiene levels and development of vaccinations is recommended as well. This will maintain people’s health and so, lessen the need for drugs. Moreover, pharmaceutical corporations and agencies like Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are supporting research into discovering new drugs for use as alternatives.
FDA is also involved in public awareness and other governmental or non-governmental organizations should follow suit.Another major concern for public health springs up from the pharmaceutical industry. A considerable number of big pharmaceutical companies seem more interested in earning profits and exerting power and influence.
From the high pricing of drugs, to monopolizing their products, to making strategies for diminishing the production of cheaper generic drugs – all highlight the plight of people. Many companies even prefer to research on the diseases of wealthy countries rather than tropical diseases affecting the poor.
This is because the purchasing power exists in the rich countries, ensuring a profitable market for them. Thus, poor countries are actually the ones being exploited and neglected. Although rules have been set by the World Trade Organization, there is a need to devise more favorable and sustainable international laws considering the whole world population.
Pharmaceutical companies should exercise the principles of social responsibility and ethical marketing.In addition to this, there is a severe shortage of health-care workers. According to World Health Organization, we are currently short of around seven million health workers globally while the basic threshold is 23 workers for every 10,000 people.
This implies that people do not have access to required medical attention and services. Reasons vary from lack of professional institutes, increased demands and meagre salaries forcing the workers to either leave their profession or migrate to foreign countries leading to unbalanced geographic distribution.
Hence, incentives must be taken to protect the rights of health workforce and efforts should be directed towards teaching and training people so that a huge, competent and skillful staff turns out.To conclude, all the public health challenges exist with their solutions. If individuals, communities, organizations and governments become more responsible and unified in their endeavours as cooperation on a large scale, it would be of utmost significance in this regard.
About the Author: Saroosh Fatima is a 2nd year medical student at Dow Medical College with some experience of freelance writing. She can be reached at [email protected].
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