Every year, the World Health Organization releases a list of the top ten health-related areas that doctors and public health advocates need to focus on. The list for 2019, released last week, includes anti-vaxxers, climate change, pollution, and the possibility of a global flu pandemic.
Listed eighth on the top ten, concerns around vaccinations made global headlines after the WHO’s inclusion of the phenomenon. According to the WHO, vaccines prevent two to three million deaths every year. If everyone in the world got all the recommended vaccines, another 1.5 million lives could potentially get saved. In 2016, Europe had a record-low 5,000 cases of measles, a preventable disease. In 2017, on the other hand, they had a whopping 21,000 cases. The World Health Organization points to this, among other alarming statistics, in their inclusion of anti-vaxxers on their top ten list.
The Number One Spot
The number one health issue? Air pollution and climate change, according to the WHO. Nine out of ten people breathe in polluted air, increasing their risks of dementia, proper brain development, and infertility. 90% of all deaths related to environmental causes are in middle and low-income countries, where pollution is much lower than in developed countries.
Non-Communicable Disease Nab Top Spot
The second spot on the list, not to anyone’s surprise, is non-communicable diseases. 70% of deaths globally are as a result of non-communicable diseases. Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, all of which get caused by four factors: tobacco usage, alcohol usage, physical inactivity, air pollution, and unhealthy diets. While not all of these factors are within your control (air pollution, for example,) the majority of all elements are within your control.
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