by ANDRIN MARIA MARTIN & THANGAMARI ISWARYA
TIPS-Global Institute, Coimbatore.
We live in a time where technologies have reached its peak and new technologies are on the verge to make a drastic impact on our lives. Since healthcare is one of the most sensitive industries that is directly connected to us in almost all possible ways: emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially; the impact of the new economy and technology in healthcare requires immediate attention to address the challenge they bring.
Physicians, Nurses and other healthcare professionals must do their parts to influence prevention efforts on a worldwide scale by focusing on the global health. The first step to understanding global health is to define it, and then learn about some related issues.
So, what is Global Health?
Global health focuses on the health needs of people around the world. It includes study, research, and practice of medicine with a focus on improving health and health equity for populations worldwide. As a field of study, it draws on a variety of disciplines, from economics, environmental science, epidemiology, sociology, and many others.
Researchers from around the world work together to improve global health. The World Health Organization (WHO) is one of the most important international agencies advancing global health, researchers and leaders in a variety of fields. It brings together more than 150 countries around the world to address global health challenges and trends.
So, why is Global Health important?
Global Health is important because it improves worldwide health, access to health care services and the quality of health care for all. This is because our world has become interconnected, and our health as individual human beings is influenced by global health issues.
Global health emphasizes prevention at the population level and is vital to helping maintain global security. Considering COVID-19, the disease has spread rapidly across the globe and many nations reached the brink of recession. However, that pandemic is just one example of numerous scenarios that, if not addressed, could threaten lives around the world.
Global Health also promotes millennium development goals that includes:
- Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal education
- Promoting gender equality
- Reduces child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases.
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Other Developmental programmes
“Everyone can make a difference.”
“Everyone can make a difference.”
- Dr. Paul Macpherson
Clinician and Scientist at The Ottawa Hospital
So, what are the biggest challenges confronting progress in Global Health?
Let’s take a look at the top 10 healthcare challenges that the community faces and what effective measures can be taken to resolve those challenges.
India has seen a gradual rise in the life expectancy like the other developing countries, as it has various wellness schemes and programs. It has also led to improvements in economic welfare, as a result of the improved health of the community. The society is currently facing a disease burden as there are rises in the cases of communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases and injuries.
The health sector of India is so diverse and has a range of traditional medicines like Siddha, Ayurveda, Unani, Homeopathy. The government expenditure on health is rather low, which is 0.9% out of 5% of GDP. Unfair and unequal healthcare provision is the main global healthcare challenge that need to be addressed to improve the standard of life of the people of the country.
“Lack of food, unsafe food & drinking water are responsible for one-third of the global disease burden.” says the WHO.
THE HEALTHCARE CHALLENGES OF THE NEXT DECADE THAT NEEDS ATTENTION
The climatic response depends on the activity of humankind towards the environment. The emissions and pollutants cause one-quarter of deaths from heart attack, stroke, lung cancer and chronic respiratory disease. It is important to implement policies and have control boards like the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to have good quality of the environmental components like the air, water and soil.
Healthcare expenditure & equal healthcare services to the community
Making healthcare fairer and equal to the people in need is important aspect in maintaining health of the society. Due to growing social-economic gaps result in biased delivery of healthcare services. On a longer run of inequitable healthcare services, it could lead in the development of various non-communicable diseases like cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes due to the lack of accessibility and affordability. The focus on decreasing the spread of infectious diseases must be strongly concentrated on increasing the healthcare expenditure of the country and promoting active vaccination, prevention and awareness programs.
Healthcare workers & their contribution
As the disease outbreaks spreads fast and threatens many lives we have to proactively be prepared and respond to the situation. We should be in a position to forecast the upcoming outbreaks and crisis and be prepared for it. Having proper monitoring boards or committees, trained epidemiologists and professionals to provide guidance to thrive the situation is important. There is a rise of shortages in healthcare workers due to low pay and less investment in medical education & employment.
Lifestyle & practices of the community
There also should be initiatives taken to protect and keeping adults safe from road injury, infectious diseases and suicide. And also focus on reducing the use of tobacco, alcohol and drug use that serves as the factors that causes death. The use of tobacco & following unhealthy diets which are high in trans-fat and salt is leading to lifestyle diseases and disorders like overweight, obesity, diabetes and diet related diseases are rising globally.
Focus on health education of the community
We should ensure on earning public trust on promoting information on health and encouraging people to take vaccination, for the prevention of deadly diseases. Mostly vaccinations aren’t portrayed as a good solution in the community due to the misconception and ill perceived thoughts on the side effects of the medicine. Share and spread information about the vaccine and awareness on other health issues that builds scientific literacy and health education which are vital.
“Each challenge requires a coordinated effort from the global health sector, policymakers, international agencies and communities. This list reflects a deep concern that leaders are failing to invest enough resources in core health priorities and systems.” the WHO says.
The remedial measures that could mitigate the current global healthcare challenges
There should be reshaping of the food system & provide healthy and sustainable diets to have a healthy community. There should be an effective intervention like introduction of evidence-based public policies and control practices. Investments and global expenditure must be focused on healthcare and health data information systems. To increase the accessibility of care during crisis and to face a sudden epidemic diseases like the Covid19, the WHO has worked on having trained healthcare workers and usage of targeted facilities.
There must be achievable goals set on improvements of the statistics and measurement rates of the community like IMR, MMR, etc. “We deploy mobile medical teams, improve disease detection and warning systems, conduct vaccination campaigns, distribute medicines and train health workers” says the WHO.
It is vital to efficiently utilize technologies and tools to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases. The technology can be harnessed to speed up the Covid-19 diagnosis & tests and the vaccination process. There should also be a check on the supply of Over the Counter (OTC) medicines due the over usage causing Anti- Microbial Resistance (AMR) or Superbugs. The people in the society must also be educated on using OTC medicines and their implications which serves as an important part of health education.
The healthcare services provided must be clean and of high quality to avoid the spread of nosocomial infections for the patients and healthcare workers. There should also be provision of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation services to avoid the spread of diseases and protect the health of the society. There must be proper measurement tools like ratios and rates like Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), to have a control of the condition and to make changes or improvements in the statistics of the community.
TOWARDS A HEALTHIER COMMUNITY
Global health is important to each and every one of us. The ever-growing list of global health issues can be overwhelming, but there are so many ways individuals can make a positive impact.
“Small contributions quickly add up if enough people take up the cause.”
– St. George University, Grenada, West Indies.
Since there is no end to the global health risks, we need strong leaders to ensure a crisis management. These leaders must be knowledgeable enough to prevent or mitigate the damage and impact experienced in health crises. They should also provide training and education to medical staffs to deal with such events. Advanced education is crucial for those who wish to deepen their leadership skills and gain the knowledge to be a vital presence in global health.
While making decisions, healthcare enterprises have to consider a range of healthcare challenges that emerge with new technology and change the market practices. It is essential to map their consumers requirements and preferences and based on that create an implementation approach.
BOTTOM LINE: Global health issues will only grow in the coming years, as countries and economies around the world become more connected. Growing wealth and trade has the potential to make important improvements to human health, but there are also new threats. New infectious diseases and stubborn chronic conditions will present challenges for many years to come, but doctors and scientists also work together globally. Working together, they dedicate their lives to improving global health.