Health Issues Based on World Health Organisation’s Publication

Last few months I have completed, six courses launched by World Health Organisation (WHO) and thus I have received few videos, materials, links etc. from WHO.  Based on ‘World Health Statistics 2020: A visual summary’ published by WHO, few important points are presented here for the benefit of readers, academicians and scholars. Since this article is based on international publication so researchers can use for further research.  

   Before starting of the discussion, it is pertinent to mention that, all human beings desire to survive with healthy life. Long ago, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore wrote a beautiful Bengali poem and from there one line I am quoting in English alphabet “Morite chahi na ami sundor bhubone…Manober majhe ami bachibare chai” (meaning in general is ‘in this beautiful world I don’t like to die, rather would like to survive among the human beings’). For leading a healthy life, all the Governments in the world have been trying their best for their citizens by spending a good amount from Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health. In addition, World Health Organisation (WHO) has been doing excellent work in this area as we know its role during COVID19 crisis.

    In 2005 a new concept has been developed by the World Health Organisation known as the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005), an agreement between 196 countries and territories to work together for global health security. They are a commitment to develop and improve public health capacities that make the world ready to respond to emerging public health emergencies. And for this purpose, 13 indicators have been prepared and for the benefit of readers I am presenting all:  Legislation and financing, Coordination and focal point, Zoonotic events, Food safety, Laboratory, Surveillance, Human resources, Health emergency framework, Health service provision, Risk communication, Points of entry, Chemical events and Radio nuclear emergencies. The IHR scoring system exists to measure a country’s ability to prepare for and respond to these health emergencies. Anyway, according to World Health Organisation, “the global outbreak of COVID-19 will have an unprecedented – and as yet unknown – effect on our work towards a healthier world”. “This year’s World Health Statistics report makes clear that the global efforts in recent decades have been fetching good result”.

 According to me first important point from the publication is concept of Healthy Life Expectancy (HALE).  Life expectancy gives an indication of how long a population is expected to live on average. But Healthy Life Expectancy (HALE) reveals the true health of a person. It’s about both length of life and quality of life. Not just the number of years the average person lives, but the number of years they can expect to live in good health. And the inspiring news is that, “between 2000 and 2016, HALE increased globally by 8% from 59 years to 63”.

Since 2000, the risk of a child dying before their fifth birthday has halved in the African region. This is due, in part, to gains made in vaccination coverage for specific diseases. From 2000 to 2018, global coverage of DTP3 (Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis) immunization has increased from 72 percent to 86 percent. During the same period, MCV2 (Measles-containing-vaccine second-dose) immunization coverage has gone up from 18 percent to 69 percent. Also from 2008 to 2018, PCV3 (Pneumococcal conjugate 3rd dose) immunization coverage has scaled up from 4 percent to 47 percent.  But according to the publication under-5 mortality remains a major problem in Africa, where the rate is more than eight times higher than the European countries (in 2018). Another point is about the maternal death. The death of women as a result of complications during or following pregnancy and childbirth reflects the global inequalities in access to quality health care.  In the world, between 2014 and 2019, 81 percent of births were attended by skilled health personnel. The issue lies with African countries as Africa’s data is 525 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births which is seven times greater than the target.

Further, according to the publication, incidences of HIV, TB and malaria have decreased globally since 2000, yet they still pose a major threat. Indeed, progress in the fight against malaria has stalled in most regions since 2014 but HIV has increased in Europe and Eastern Mediterranean compared with 2000.

   Before conclusion, I wish to mention that, “the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for global cooperation to improve population health. In order to achieve the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is critical that we monitor progress on all fronts to reduce inequalities, address climate change and strengthen health systems, so that no one is left behind”.

Dr Shankar Chatterjee, Hyderabad

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